Constance Hanna (she/her)
I was born/grew up in: Winnipeg, Manitoba
I now live in: Paris, Ontario
What I do at work
As an Industrial Maintenance Millwright at Aspire Bakeries, I fix all types of machines that make and package food Items. We make all the muffins, English muffins and bagels for Tim Hortons, Starbucks and McDonald's. We also make many other baked goods for restaurants and grocery chains. I do different types of machining and welding, and I work with electrical and other kinds of systems.
My job varies a lot from day to day. Most days, workers are using the machines to make baked goods. We are there to support them if they have issues with the machines. When the machines are not running, we inspect them to make sure they will not break. We also make sure they are not going to cause any risk to your food. If needed, we will make repairs or upgrades to improve the equipment.
I use different kinds of hand tools and specialized shop equipment to do my work. Every day is different, so it is rarely boring. I use STEM and mathematics every day. It could be to calculate dimensions to make a part for a machine, or to order parts. The hands-on, critical thinking you learn from STEM helps you make decisions. Especially when you have to figure out how to repair something by following a sequence of operations.
I currently work in a team of eight. There are five industrial millwrights, two Industrial electricians, and one operations engineer. The operations engineer takes care of our giant fridges, and our giant kettles, which are called boilers.
My career path is
This is not what I expected to do when I started in high school. However, it was something that caught my interest when I did a co-op. There were not too many women in skilled trades at the time. Once I decided I wanted to work in the trades, I didn't give up. Being told that I would not succeed as a woman just made me want to do it more.
When I first started out in trades, I was laid off a few times. This was very discouraging. In the last five years, I have had job offers, and have been contacted by recruiters to take new jobs.
I am motivated by
I love working in a team and that my job is never repetitive. I'm a very energetic person and sitting at a desk leaves me wanting more. I'm never in the same place for too long, so this works well with my personality. I enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishing something myself, and seeing the end product. The machinery I work on, and the tasks I do, are always different. This makes my job exciting.
How I affect peoples’ lives
My job affects others because I am part of food production. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the food industry has been considered essential. It is great job security, especially now, because there is a skilled trade shortage. My job is very fulfilling. The wages are good, and it is satisfying to fix something and see it work properly again.
Outside of work I
I love nature, animals, and I love to garden in my spare time. I volunteer to speak to young girls or women interested in skilled trades. I also volunteer at the SPCA when I have time. I would love to do some sort of organized sport, but my job is very physical, so it leaves me tired at times.
My advice to others
Ask your school counselor for information about a program such as the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, or another co-op program. Many organizations also have drop-in guest speakers, so you can ask questions. Taking an entry-level summer job with a company that employs millwrights will give you exposure to the work. It will also allow you to ask questions, see what opportunities are available, and learn what is required to get them.