I was born/grew up in: Calgary, Alberta
I now live in: Chestermere, Alberta
I completed my training/education at: I completed the Electrical Apprenticeship program at SAIT (southern Alberta institute of technology)
What I do at work
I am a service-based electrician at a multi trade contracting company. This means I follow up on electrical service calls we receive throughout the day. Most days I will spend some time preparing quotes for customers. This requires me to use my math skills. I use math and physics (Ohms Law in particular) to determine if a building or an electrical supply can handle what is desired to be added. We can use specialized equipment to help us determine the power usage. This is quicker than manually logging the info and calculating the outcome. I use a data logger or oscilloscope to record the power a building uses. This helps us to see if we can add more devices or if we would need to upgrade the service before preparing a quote.
A big part of my job is problem solving. When I attend a service call, I immediately go through my analytical process. I like to start with the reported problem. Next, I go through the process of how it got to that point. It is hard to determine the plan of action if we do not know the cause of the problem. If someone witnessed the cause, I like to get as much information from them. However, often there is no one around to answer your questions. Having a large team of different trades can help in these situations. Someone on the team will have experienced this issue. This is especially helpful in the middle of the night when you need a hand. My background with science and math helps me to make decisions and problem solve. The fundamental electrical principles play a huge role in how I plan a project or repair equipment.
My career path is
If someone told me I was going to be an electrician when I was in high school, I would not have believed them. I was always told you have either a math brain or a language arts brain. As a result, I took Advanced Placement English and social studies in high school. For math and science, I took the lowest level that would allow me to graduate. I planned to go into public relations or political science. Like many kids my age, I didn’t have the funds to attend university right away. I didn't like the idea of going into debt to study something I might not like doing. In addition, spending that much money and not having guaranteed job security was not appealing to me. I decided to take a year off to save money and decide if I really wanted to attend university.
After getting a summer job as a labourer for an electrical company, I never turned back. I chatted with the electricians to learn what they were doing. I found their work to be very interesting. When I attended post-secondary for my electrical apprenticeship, I learned that you could excel in any field if you worked hard. I also enjoyed having work that has a more "yes or no" approach. In language arts, there are so many avenues you can take on one topic. Starting out as an apprentice is a definite challenge especially as a young woman. I had to prove myself time and time again. I had to show that I was capable of the work I was doing. I overcame the challenges I faced in my career by working hard, asking for help, and increasing my learning and training.
I am motivated by
The most important part of choosing a career for me was being able to adapt and change over time. My biggest motivation in my career is my love for learning and advancing my skills. I am not the type of person who can do the same tasks over and over. With advancing technology there is always something new to learn. The idea of future proofing is a big factor in my advanced education goals. I would like a skillset that can help me progress in the future. Having like minded people around me all the time is the best part of my job. It is nice to bounce ideas off your coworkers. If I ever have any questions I can always go to one of them for help. I do the type of tasks that give instant satisfaction. I like to plan a project, execute and verify the system myself. It is very rewarding to see projects executed from start to finish.
How I affect peoples’ lives
It became very evident during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic how valuable having a trades based career was. While most people were working from home or off temporarily, I was working overtime. If my company had not been able to enter facilities, many people would have gone without water, electricity, or heat. We don't usually take the time to think about these services until they are not available.
Outside of work I
When I am not at work, I spend a lot of time volunteering. Currently I am a part of SAGA (Skills Alumni Group of Alberta) which is a new group presented by Skills Alberta. We are working to get more young people to consider a trade or technology based career. We are also trying to make it a much easier process to find employment and support throughout your education.
My advice to others
If you are considering going into a science-based trade I would begin by getting in touch with a group like SAGA or careers next gen in Alberta. We have so many resources for you to help you make an informed decision. Also, don't feel like you have to be in the same career your entire life. You can start out doing finance, then move to computer design, then onto something completely different. The nice thing about most science-based careers is the skills you learn in one role can help you advance to a new one.