February 13, 2021

By Sean Roberts

Getting to work on the coveted Kansas City International Airport remodel project was a dream of Lauren Randolph, but pursuing it alone wasn’t getting here particularly far.

“Back when (Excelsior Springs) Job Corps actually closed because of COVID-19, I thought about applying with some company to do this and it just never ended up working out,” Lauren said. “Then at the very beginning of October, I got an email (from Job Corps) saying there was a 3-week class to get on the KCI job through the (roofers union Local 20).”

Lauren said she first interviewed with a range of companies contracted on the site and after a few experiences wowing her interviewers with her many certifications earned through Job Corps, she was welcomed to Flynn Midwest. This international company hired her to roof on the pretense she would successfully complete the 3-week class.

“I basically tested out of the program,” Lauren explained. “I did the class and it ended on a Friday and the following Monday I was on the job site getting orientated and Tuesday I was working.”

This success was of no surprise to her former instructors. Lauren was always a go getter.

“One week we started our lesson on roofs and roofing,”instructor Troy Sowers said. “She really excelled and by the end of the week she knew she wanted to be a roofer.”

Sowers said Lauren was a very determined student-employee and during her time at Job Corps also helped to motivate her peers.

“If you told Lauren she couldn’t do it, she would take that as a challenge just to prove you wrong,” Sowers said. “Lauren was a leader in class. When other students were dragging she would pick them up and get everyone involved and excited about the projects they were working on.”

There are a lot of skills Job Corps contributed to Lauren’s career success.

“They make a big deal about safety at Job Corps which really helps a lot because safety is a huge deal on any jobsite,”

Lauren said. “Also, just simple things, like reading a tape measure. They made a big deal about that at JobCorps and I read a tape measure almost daily. Also learning my tools, because I do use some tools I learned in carpentry and roofing.”

Another valuable thing Job Corps gave Lauren was a staunch dose of reality.

“I was around a lot of guys in the hard-hat trades,” Lauren described. “That is what it’s like with my company so I got used to working with a lot of guys and it helps a lot…it prepared me for working in the real world.”

Women don’t dominate hard-hat trades, although the number continues to grow.

“Being a female in a nontraditional trade was a challenge that she was determined to conquer,” Sowers said.”Today she is not doing the traditional shingle roof, she is doing the big commercial roof on KCI air port.”

Admittedly, roofing still had some surprises for Lauren.

“I didn’t know what to expect but it is definitely not what I expected. At Job Corps when I mentioned I wanted to be a roofer, to me roofing was shingles,and that is not what we are doing at all,”she said with a chuckle. “It is completely different but it is super cool and I am learning a lot.”

Sowers said his best advice to Lauren on the job is she must continue to prove herself every day.

“Continue to challenge yourself throughout your apprenticeship because there is no limit to the goals you can achieve,” he added.

Lauren is proud to be working on the KCI project because it gives her something tangible.

“I think it is really cool that my first job is KCI Airport because it is going to be there forever,” she said. “It’s going to be something that when it is completed and I have kids or grandkids I can say, ‘Yeah, I built that. You see that roof? I did that roof. I remember when this wasn’t here and I got to be a part of building this.”

For those entering Job Corps, Lauren’s tip to success is focus.

“In the long run, if you actually take it seriously and stay focused it will payoff,” she said. “I didn’t take it seriously at first and (later it hit me), I need to stay focused and take it as seriously as I can but still have fun.”