Participants from the first YWCA Trade Journey cohort entered the workforce last spring. Two of these tradeswomen returned to the YWCA as presenters at a lunch and learn this week, to talk about their experience entering the trades.
Here are some pieces of great advice they offered, to the next group of women going through the YWCA Trade Journey program.
5. You’re going to need more than 1 tape measure.
If you get asked for something on the job site more than three times, write it down, because you will notice which tools you need. I’ve got a two-foot crowbar that works for everything. I’ve already bought over $1,000 in tools and I wrap mine in leopard print so the guys don’t want to use them. Make sure you’re accountable for the tools you are borrowing. And keep watch of your own tools.
4. You’re going to learn a new language.
You’ll think it’s a foreign language when you start working with these guys. Dunnage. Is that a made-up word? Dunnage is that scrap wood people put under things so its not sitting right on the floor. Soffits are like ceilings, but when they are outdoors under the roof.
3. Don’t get a pink hard hat.
The hard hat was a good investment. I don’t know if any of you got your hard hats yet but do NOT get a pink one. Some companies will help you buy tools. A lot of job sites will provide the PPE (personal protective equipment.) If they don’t have it you can ask. Layers are the key (for dressing on the job site). If you don’t want to deal with plumber’s butt, definitely buy the men’s pants, because they have a higher waist.
2. You don’t want to say “I can’t do that.”
Sometimes it’s like, yeah, I’m a girl but I need to get this done. I’m more than just a girl. My company has four or five women who work as plumbers or apprentice plumbers out of about 75 in total. Many men who are working there don’t have to worry about dropping their kids off at daycare because their wives do that. Tolerate and respect each other. Don’t hide your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to talk to your boss if you have problems with men on the site. Take your job seriously. Be on time. Good things will come your way.
1. The YWCA Trade Journey program gives you leverage.
My boss said if I didn’t have this (YWCA Trade Journey) program he wouldn’t have hired me. It’s how you present yourself. A positive attitude, confidence, and networking are critical. You’re meeting all these people that are valuable resources. It’s a lot of word of mouth. Don’t be afraid to negotiate your starting wage. This program gives you leverage in your interview. When this program gets up to 300 or more women, and many of them are red seals, that’s a big network to have.