I was born/grew up in: Red Deer, AB
I now live in: Red Deer, AB
I completed my training/education at: SAIT Polytechnic, Sheet Metal Worker
What I do at work
Today I’m working with Chandos Construction as a Project Coordinator. My job is to work with and assist the Project Manager. Project management is all about making sure projects are completed on time and on budget. Chandos Construction is a general contractor. As a result, I get to work on a variety of commercial construction projects. This ranges from hospitals to shopping centers, to restaurants and medical offices. I mainly work in an office but sometimes get to visit worksites. I help write up contracts and support the workers. My skilled trades experience and training helps me understand what the workers are doing and what they need.
My goal is to become a Project Manager. As the Coordinator, I’m learning the process of management. I’m learning how contracts are drawn up. I’m also learning what goes into a bid for a construction project. As I learn more, I will get to take on roles that are more complicated. Normally it takes about two years of on the job training to develop the necessary skills and knowledge. I really love what I am doing!
My career path is
I did not plan my career path very well. I have always been interested in art and design. When I graduated high school I began work on a Bachelor of Fine Arts. I found this wasn’t what I wanted to do so I got a job planting trees. I fell in love, got married and had children. Finding work that aligns with a growing family is difficult. I got into interior decorating and did some night classes. I worked with a renovation company. I liked the work but the pay was not that great. So I started job hunting.
I came across a program that was recruiting women to go into the skilled trades. It is ironic that I hadn’t thought of this before. My father is a carpenter and my brothers are in the trades. It seemed no one was promoting skilled trades to women. After I checked out the program, I quit my job and signed on. This program taught me some carpentry and shop skills. More importantly, it showed me that I could work in the skilled trades. From here I went to SAIT Polytechnic where I completed the Sheet Metal Worker training program. I completed my Red Seal certification in this area.
I worked as a Red Seal sheet metal worker for a number of years. I was taking on supervisory roles and learning more about business. In my last year as a sheet metal worker, I was making about $90,000 a year. A management position came up in my hometown and I got the job. The salary in this position is lower than I was making before but it is getting me into an area that I find really interesting and fulfilling.
I am motivated by
I like being part of the support structure in this company. I like to see other people succeed and do well. It feels great to be part of getting things to go properly. I also love seeing buildings being built. Site visits are great because I get to see the job as it progresses.
How I affect people’s lives
The job I am doing now makes a different in the lives of our employees. As a sheet metal worker, I could not make decisions or changes that might make things more efficient. I’m in a position of leadership. Workers look to management for answers and when they need help with their jobs. For example, if supplies are ready on time and onsite, the company makes money. If they lose too much, they could go out of business or lay people off.
In other cases, the work culture might not be very good. Managers look for ways to solve problems that arise in the workplace. For example, if a worker is feeling stressed, they need someone to talk too. It might just be to vent. It might be that a small change will make a big difference. It feels good to help solve problems that the workers can’t do on their own. It also feels good when you get to help the company save money or do well.
Outside of work I
I like outdoor activities. This might be riding my bike or just sitting around a backyard fire. I engage in activities that help get more women and minorities into the skilled trades. I like the positive changes that have taken place in the skilled trades. I want people to know these are great career choices.
My advice to others
Give it a try! Try lots of things and don’t write something off because it sounds strange or uninteresting. You never know where something will lead. When you are thinking about a possible career, make a list of what you need to be happy. Do you like to be physically active? Do you prefer to be inside or outside? Do you like to do hands on activities like building or tinkering? Or do you like to think about things and problem solve? Without looking at a job title, look for a job that will satisfy your needs. You’ll never be disappointed in your choice.