Kirstene Reyes

Carpenter, Kiewit-Kvaerner Contractors

I was born/grew up in: The Philippines

I now live in: St. John’s, NL. I have lived in Canada for 10 years.

I completed my training/education at: Carpenters Millwrights College, Paradise, NL

Describe what you do at work.

We start the day with our toolbox talk. This is the time when we prepare for the job we will be doing and discuss the safety issues associated. We discuss the processes that are required for the job and any changes that need to occur. On a large industrial job like the one I’m currently working on, there are many other trades people working in the same area, doing other jobs. We have to solve problems as we will have to ensure the part of the job we are doing will not interfere with the other jobs.

We have to ensure that our measurements are accurate in order to fit the prefabricated concrete forms onto the structure and work around embedded steel structures. We also have to make sure that the forms are erected square, perfectly vertical, and level so that the final structure will be too.

When I was a student I enjoyed:

How does your job affect people’s lives?

I’m working on a large industrial project that will produce jobs for others for years to come. So it is important that it is built right so it is safe and environmentally sound.

What motivates you in your career?

I like that my job continually changes with the place I am working. It also means that I am continually learning new things related to my trade. For example, when I first started in the carpentry trade I thought the only materials I would work with would be wood. I have since learned that carpenters get to work with all types of materials, even steel forms. Working on an industrial site I’ve learned that each trade has an important role to play in making the final product.

When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:

Describe your career path to this career.

I’m registered in an apprenticeship program. I started out with a nine month course at the Carpenters Millwright College and entered the workforce as a first year apprentice. After I complete 1800 hours on the job, learning from more senior carpenters and practicing my skills, I will go back to school again for more training. The in-class and on-the-job training will continue for 4 to 5 years at which time I will study and write an exam for my Red Seal certification.

I didn’t really know I wanted to be a carpenter. My father was a handyman and I followed him around seeing how he worked with his hands. But I didn’t think that type of job was for me even though I liked making things with my hands. I drove a forklift for a while but didn’t feel there was any future in this. I knew I wasn’t interested in an academic program so I looked for jobs that were hands on. I tried welding but did not enjoy that type of work. Then I tried carpentry and I liked it and am still enjoying it. I feel lucky that I have found a career that suits my personality and which makes me feel good about myself.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

I like to play hacky sac. In the summer I like to ride my long board. I volunteer by being a mentor for young women interested in the skilled trades and I have volunteered my skills with Habitat for Humanity. I enjoy driving and listening to music.

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

You have to enjoy what you are doing. If you find your job enjoyable and rewarding that is the most important thing. If you are not sure if a certain career is for you, you should give it a try and do some research before you make a decision. Just do it! Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. You will never know if it is for you unless you try it.

Let’s Talk Science is grateful to Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador for connecting us with this individual.

CurioCity Careers

We hope you enjoyed learning about this great STEM career! The information in this career profile was provided by this individual especially for CurioCity. We hope it helped give you a sense of what this type of job is really like.

Let’s Talk Science is pleased to provide you with this information as you explore future career options. Many careers require a background in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Even jobs that don’t use specific STEM concepts on a day-to-day basis benefit from the skills gained through a study of STEM. People with a STEM background are very much in demand by employers across all career sectors. If you would like to learn about more careers that have a STEM connection, visit

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