Amanda Phillips


“I had wanted to do this for the last three years.” That’s what Amanda Phillips said in describing her decision to study carpentry. She had graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, in 2000, with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. Actually, it was a college experience there that sparked her interest in a totally different course of study.

As a student, she was the manager for a theater production, and one of the jobs was to build the set for the show. “It was the first time I had picked up any tool other than a hammer,” said Phillips, “but I just ‘got it’ and really like building.” After graduating, she worked on some projects with her father and she also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. Meanwhile, she was utilizing her business management degree working for The Hartford Life Insurance Company and managing a video store as she built her career. Finally she knew that she wanted to learn more about carpentry, so she started searching online and found the HTC program. Phillips didn’t know anyone who had attended the college, but since she lived in Burnsville, she liked the convenient location of the Eden Prairie Campus. She started classes in August 2006 and graduated in May 2007. In fact, she was chosen as a commencement speaker.

“That’s kind of a funny story,” said Phillips as she talked about being selected to address her fellow HTC graduates. She had no idea that she was being nominated, but when HTC Vice President for Student Affairs Ron Kraft asked faculty members to nominate an outstanding student to be the commencement speaker, Carpentry Instructor Bill Joos had Phillips in mind for the honor. “When Ron Kraft came out to the shop, I thought it was about my work as an instructor aide,” said Phillips. He told her that no Carpentry student had been nominated before and after interviewing Phillips and other nominees, Phillips was chosen to be student speaker at commencement ceremonies on May 17.

"Seeking an education takes courage... There’s something you want to learn about, but you don’t know anything about it, so you need the courage to pursue that dream.”

That’s something she has learned firsthand. “I’ve realized that I have to live up to my own expectations,” said Phillips. “Some of the people I went to school with were thinking of what their parents expected of them.” She is seeing her courage pay off as she launches her new career.

In March, when she competed in the SkillsUSA statewide competition held in St. Paul, a manager from Minneapolis-based Greiner Construction approached her to discuss an apprenticeship at the company. “I really felt honored,” said Phillips, “because they only hire one apprentice per year.” According to Phillips, to advance from an apprentice to a journeyman carpenter requires 7,000 hours on the job. She will receive credit for 1,000 hours for her HTC education; completing the remaining 6,000 hours will take three years. Greiner specializes in commercial remodels, and Phillips says she has learned a lot in just a few weeks with the company. She’s also glad to be putting her HTC training to good use.

“I liked the variety of things we learned at HTC,” said Phillips, who served in the HTC Student Senate. “We learned about everything involved in carpentry, and even if we weren’t going to work on it, we discussed it in class.” Phillips hopes to use her business management background along with her carpentry knowledge to advance into a management position in the construction industry.

If you’ve driven by the HTC-built house on Old Shakopee Road in Bloomington, you’ve seen some of Phillips’ work. HTC Carpentry students started from the ground up to build that home. Now that she’s building a new career, Amanda Phillips is glad that HTC played a part in helping her achieve her dream.

Last updated by jhanson : 2016-07-27 10:20:21