Melissa Smith Carpenter | OAWA PEI
Tradeswoman PE, Tradeswoman Stories

Melissa Smith, Carpenter

Dreams Do Come True

Melissa Smith always wanted to be a carpenter; she wanted to make things with her hands. Her career path didn’t start out that way, but she’s well on her way to her goal now with the support of her family, friends, and the Office to Advance Women Apprentices.

Future on the HERizon

Melissa graduated with a diploma in business administration, but a downturn in the economy left her working in hotels; behind the front desk and adding shifts in housekeeping to keep her going. She spent several years working seasonally in hospitality, applying for jobs, and caring for her son, but she just wasn’t seeing her life progress the way she wanted.
“A friend from work suggested applying for Trade HERizons. I applied, was accepted, enjoyed the program, graduated, and applied to Holland College for Heritage Retrofit Carpentry,” Melissa says. “In May 2016 I graduated and decided to take the one-year certificate in Wood Manufacturing/Cabinet Making to hone my skills. I wanted to do Finish Carpentry!”

A Bumpy Road

Since her graduation there have been a few bumps in the road for Melissa. She tried working at one manufacturing shop, but wasn’t a good fit. Her second job was a dream come true, but was a long commute which ate up much of her salary and affected how much time she could spend with her family. Once again, Melissa found herself behind the front desk at the hotel trying to catch up on bills.

“At this point I was rather defeated and had almost given up on my carpentry dreams. Another friend suggested I go talk to the Carpenters Union (Local 1338). I went in one day just to talk and see what it was about,” she says, “When I left, I had signed up and joined. It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses as I always seem to be fighting to prove myself.”

Her Inspiration

But she continues to work, and is receiving guidance and support from the Office to Advance Women Apprentices. In January she was successful with her first block and is now a second-year carpenter apprentice. Her goal is to get that Red Seal certification in carpentry, followed by cabinetmaking, and later open her own business where she would focus on finish work, building furniture, and stairs.

“Ultimately, I would love to share my knowledge and skills with other women in the field. It would be awesome to have a crew of women all learning and working together,” she says.
But most importantly, Melissa wants to serve as a hardworking role model for her son.

“Each day I show up to work is a day that shows I don’t give up and I’ll keep fighting for the right to be equal.”

What’s Your Dream

To find out how to achieve your dreams and get a job in your chosen trade, connect with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices who can provide you with direction on a career in the trades, connect you with a tradeswoman mentor, and guide you on your trades career path.

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Jackie Frampton Electrician | OAWA NL
Tradeswoman NL, Tradeswoman Stories

Jackie Frampton, Electrician

Start With A Single Step

Break down the words journeyperson and you’re perfectly describing Jackie Frampton’s experience in getting her Red Seal as an electrician. Jackie’s story is one with setbacks and successes, but her hard work has paid off.

A Little Help from Her Friends

Jackie began her career after her pre-apprenticeship at a major industrial project in Newfoundland and Labrador, but quickly realized travelling to a job site or living in a camp wasn’t going to work with her lifestyle. She has a family and for her, her children’s well-being came first. That meant going back to the drawing board to find the right work experience for her.

Jackie got in touch with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices who found her employment where she could gain lots of experience, while being able to go home to her family each evening.

“The work was great when it was plentiful, and at times I struggled to find further employment to gain all of my hours. But with patience, and determination, and support, I was successful and went about my challenge to get my Red Seal” Jackie says.

Facing the Test

The Red Seal exam was Jackie’s next challenge. She worked hard, studied in all her spare time, but the first time she sat for the exam she wasn’t successful.

“I did not give up, however,” she says. “I reached out and got assistance wherever I could – speaking with my Apprenticeship Development Officer, taking a Journeyperson Prep course offered through the Office to Advance Women Apprentices, getting advice from other electricians, etc. I was persistent and determined that I was going to pass that exam, and now am very proud to hold my Red Seal as a Journeyperson Electrician.”

Hard Work Pays Off

Jackie’s journey to her Red Seal took hard work and determination, but she also credits the support system she built through her employers, the Office to Advance Women Apprentices, her various employers and Industrial Training for helping her reach her goal. She says she also had a great group of co-workers who propped her up, watched out for her, and took her under their wing.

“Not only did I get my Red Seal, but by example I showed my kids that you have to work for what you want, that at times it is a struggle, but to never give up on your dreams …. and I got my ideal job in my field!”

From Struggle to Success

Inspired by Jackie’s journey? Find out how to achieve your goals and get a job in your chosen trade, register with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices. We’re here to help.

To register, select the applicable office in the footer section below. Once on that page select the REGISTER tab.

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