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Why I chose a career in the construction industry because:
I chose a career as an electrician because I wanted to learn to fix things on my own. I wanted to be more self-sufficient and less dependent on others. The electrical trade also challenged me and presented great opportunities for learning and growing in the industry. I chose this career because I wanted to see the result of my hard work at the end of the day; I love the feeling of accomplishment and empowerment when I work at something and at the end of the day, that work helped someone's day improve. The trades also provide a great sense of job security - electricity is a basic element of our daily lives and I can do this type of work anywhere I go.
What training or education did you need for your current role?
I started my work in the trade through a program offered through Vermont Works for Women called "Step up to Electrical." This is very similar to the Trailblazers program that is now running. "Step up" was an 8-week program for women to learn the basics of construction - tool use and identification, power tool use, basic electrical components, wiring, and what to expect on the job. I went from this program straight to work for an electrical contractor and entered into the 5-year apprenticeship program. The great thing about working in the construction industry is that you typically do not need any training to enter the field. You are trained on the job, learning from the professionals.
Currently, I am teaching building and electrical trades at a career and tech center in Saint Albans, Vermont. I started teaching a year of the apprenticeship program after I was a licensed electrician and then moved into directing that program. Through that role, I would bring the electrical trade to different groups around the area, including tech centers. I met the staff at the Northwest Career and Tech Center and when a job position opened, I applied to be a full-time teacher. Now, I am back in another apprenticeship to receive my teaching license while teaching the trades at the high school level.
What is a typical day like in your position?
As a high school technical education teacher, my days are spent passing along the knowledge I've gained throughout my years in the trade. The students complete book work as well as hands-on work in the shop and graduate ready to enter the trade with a foundation of knowledge. During the summer, I continue electrical work through my own business.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
I enjoy the sense of pride I have when I complete a project. I enjoy seeing the results of my hard work and like to think that I have left an imprint in my community. I also enjoy teaching others to take pride and show respect for the industry.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
I installed an automatic touchless car wash machine in the summer of 2022. This was an interesting project because of the amount of control work and electrical work that was involved - everything from the pay station, temperature sensors, the doors opening and closing, the pumps for the water, lighting, dryers, and chemical controls. The scope of the project and the harsh chemical environment required some unique design and installation considerations.
What advice do you have for women who want to work in the construction industry?
One thing that helped me throughout my years in the industry was meeting other women who are also in the industry. Forming a connection with mentors and peers who have experiences that relate to my own gives me encouragement and support and I recommend any woman entering a non-traditional field to do the same.