Take a Walk in My Work Boots
When Kendall Shea drops her welding shield and gets to work, she says she has a zen-like feeling she wouldn’t pass up for any other job.
Kendall registered with Office to Advance Women Apprentices as she was completing her pre-employment training at College of the North Atlantic and has stayed connected for support and services throughout the years of her apprenticeship.
Kendall says as a kid she’d watch her father working on this and that and became fascinated when he’d weld.
“My father is not a welder by trade, but he always had his hands into everything, and I loved that. I did everything with him, the only thing I wasn’t allowed to do with him was welding, but I stayed near out of curiosity,” she says. “That curiosity stuck with me as I got older. A few years ago when I had an opportunity to return to school and saw that the welder program was an option, I immediately knew that’s what I would do and that I would like it. It didn’t take long into my training for me to realize that this was exactly what I wanted and this was the career for me.”
It’s hard for Kendall to explain what exactly it is about welding that she loves. After some reflection, she says there’s a mindfulness that comes from watching the puddles that’s almost therapeutic. “I put on my music and it’s one of the few times in my life when there’s nothing else. I put my shield down and everything else goes away.”
A Tough But Worthwhile Journey
Kendall describes her apprenticeship as hectic and difficult. With limited connections in the trade, she was often pounding the streets to find her next opportunity, with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices behind her.
“That was the hardest – people didn’t know me. I’m five years in now and nearing my Red Seal; people now know my name and my reputation in my trade,” she says.
Kendall is currently working with Guy J Bailey Ltd. and the opportunity arrived when she needed it the most. After having to decline a job offer in Edmonton for personal reasons, Kendall took all of her belongings and moved to her hometown of Fleur de Lys with her father, not knowing what was next for her. In a matter of hours of being home, she had been offered a short, one-month contract with Guy J Bailey Ltd.
“I was determined to prove myself to them in that month and I worked as hard as I could, going above and beyond whenever possible and after that project was completed, I was transferred to another,” she says. “The company is great to work for and has been since day one. My journeyperson is the smartest person I’ve ever met in my welding career. I’ve learned so much from him since I started work here last summer. Now I have my own shop here, my own tools and space to complete my work. I can’t see myself working anywhere but here. I’m part of the team, I’m close to home, and I’m doing what I love.”
Kendall adds her success and advancement wouldn’t be possible without support from Boilermakers Local 203.
“Even though their hall may be full, they’ll still work with non-members to help them advance and be prepared for work,” she says.
For Future Women
Kendall’s advice to other women entering the trades is to stick with it if you want it.
“You’ll get your hours if you keep your focus and remember the end goal. I never thought I would get mine and here I am now with well over what I need at this point and looking to achieve my Red Seal Certification,” she says. “Keep working on it and you’ll make it.”
Find Your Zen
If you are a tradeswoman or woman interested in trades, register with the office today to get access to the office’s support and services as you advance through your apprenticeship.