AmeriCorps: Where Are They Now? Kevin Lau

May 29, 2019

After my AmeriCorps term at Austin HFH, I somehow found my way to San Francisco facing a dramatic increase in rent. Just to give y’all (I say “y ‘all” and “hella” all the time now) a glimpse, my studio in Austin went for $800, in SF, the market rate for a studio is $2,500.

Fortunately, after a month of stressing and job hunting, I was able to land a job for a real estate management company that oversees 80 multi-family properties totaling around 3,000 units. I am part of the construction project management team and I work with contractors, architects, and engineers daily on projects ranging from $5,000 to $1 million+. Mytypical projects are exterior siding restoration, roof replacement, lobby renovation, soft story retrofit, ADU (additional dwelling units), FLS upgrades, electrical upgrades, and etc.

Although now that I work in more of an office setting, I do miss spending the day working with my hands and being able to appreciate what I’ve helped create. My transition from working in the field has given me respect among my peers and a better understanding of the difficulties that my contractors face. When I am at my job sites, I can pick up on missed details and proactively solve issues before they become major problems. I would not have been equipped to succeed if it wasn’t for the high standards set at Austin HFH. A million dollar home doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality of work is going equate to that amount. I am a firm believer that oneshould always be learning especially in this massive industry. As Billy would say, “you never want to be the smartest person in the room”. With the AmeriCorps education credit, I have taken a class in AutoCAD, and I’m currently taking a blueprint reading class to further improve my skill set. For the next semester, I plan on taking a course in construction estimation.

I feel blessed for the opportunities I’ve experienced with the AmeriCorps and at AHFH. As a disclaimer for my other fellow graduating AmeriCorps, I was 29 when I joined the program and being older comes with maturity and wisdom. I embraced this experience to its fullest because I did not want to look back and regret not taking advantage of the available resource. It ‘s like that feeling where you look back and reflect your college days and you know you probably could have done a better in school. I did not take this opportunity as just another job, I took this opportunity as a stepping stone to achieve my goals. Always be open, positive, team player, and a student in life and you will get what you want in life.

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