This week’s Industry Person of the Week is Shannon Tymosko, Electrical Apprentice.
Q: How did you get started working in your field?
Shannon: In 2017, at only 29 years of age, I realized that I did not like my job. I would come home stressed, did not feel a sense of pride about the work I was doing, and had to fight for .50 cent raises that did not reflect the increase in cost of living. I enjoyed a few aspects of my job, like training and teaching, but overall, this was not a job that left me fulfilled or able to pay my bills very comfortably. I realized we spend more time at work than we do at home, and I believe it is so important to enjoy what you do. There is no perfect job, however one that makes you feel proud and happy, is a job that feels more like a hobby than a chore. Additional to mental health and happiness is financial security. I found myself going further into debt each year. I needed to find a job where I could thrive, not just survive. It was during this time my best friend Matt purchased a home and wanted to complete renovations. Both of us at the time were what you would call ‘Green’: someone who has no construction experience. With the help of YouTube, friends, and Google we replaced kitchen cabinets, renovated bathrooms and completed an unfinished basement. It was through this process I discovered I loved working with my hands. I felt empowered and proud of each new thing I completed. I knew then, this was something I would like to do for a career.
My time spent as a Child and Youth Worker provided me with the knowledge and know how, to find programs and resources available to help women get into the trades. I started researching and found a free government funded pre-apprenticeship program offered though the YWCA Hamilton for Machining and applied. I did not know what a machinist was, but I knew any education and resume building experience would be a benefit. I was accepted into the program in 2018 and successfully completed it along with a 6-month co-op at Arcelor Mittal Dofasco in 2019.
I enjoyed machining, and after my co-op finished, my job and employer sponsorship search began. The next several months I applied for every possible machinist position available, on all job platforms, and removed and changed content on my resume to appear less female and continued to find myself jobless. However, I do understand some of the challenges that machine shops may encounter when hiring a woman. The changes they may have to make to accommodate a woman (such as a washroom) could be costly, particularly for small shops.
During my job search the YWCA released the 2019 pre-apprenticeship programs and electrical was a new one added to the list. Knowing I enjoyed electrical and thinking that there may be more job availability and security in that field I applied. I was accepted into the program in 2019 and successfully completed it later that year. These programs arranged for guest speakers and additional training to help ensure our success. The IBEW Local 105 Hamilton was one of these parties and they sent guest speakers, and facilitated Lock Out, Tag Out and Working and Heights Training. I was able to network throughout this program and show my potential to the IBEW. So, when I completed the program I reached out to the local and forwarded my resume and qualifications in hopes they wou0ld take me on. I am extremely grateful that they signed me as an electrical apprentice and gave me a chance to be successful. Since this time, the IBEW has been nothing but amazing and encouraging, including sponsoring, and attending the YWCA Women of Distinction awards ceremony in 2019, and so much more.
Q: What do you love the most about your job? What are you most proud of?
Shannon: I genuinely love my job, and being an Electrical Apprentice keeps my physically, and mentally healthy, all while helping me stay financially secure. I feel challenged, engaged, and proud of the work I do. There is an amazing sense of pride and accomplishment you get when you finish a project and can say; I built that. I now have the confidence to take on different at home projects and repairs. During COVID-19 I have learned how to change my car oil, and now I have done 3 and counting. This has allowed me to save a few bucks while using higher quality oil and filters, than what is typically used at a random shop. I am not afraid to pick up a new tool and try something different, and this has helped increased my self confidence and self-esteem. No two projects are 100% alike in the trades and inevitably I learn something new almost every day I go to work. Because of this I have developed the courage to try new things, fall, stand back up, and repeat until success; confidence is built by competence and this is the formula.
I am most proud and blessed to say this journey has also taken me on a route of advocacy as an Ambassador for the skiiled trades. This allows me to take my passion for people that I found while being a Child and Youth Worker and combine it with my new love for the trades. I have been fortunate to be able to do podcasts, be a guest speaker, panelist and run workshops through OYAP for youth, in the effort to try to educate and spread awareness about the skilled trades. I hope that by sharing my story I inspire others to explore to see if the skilled trades are right for them. I ultimately hope to encourage people everywhere to try to find a career that they are passionate about and to live a life they love.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering this line of work or new to the field?
Shannon: If you are considering the trades but find yourself doubting your strengths, abilities, and safety, consider there are a lot more laws, and policies in place now that help keep employees safe, and tools that allow them to do the job despite size and strength. Remember you are not required to be super strong, but sometimes you need someone small to do a job.
I have found one of the hardest things about the skilled trades is getting into it when you don’t have any connections and you are new to the filed. I encourage anyone interested to be persistent and attempt getting hands on experience you can add to a resume. Additionally, to women who may be interested search out programs in your area that help support women transition into a trade.
Q: Can you talk about a project you recently worked on?
Shannon: My first job, starting October 2019, was new build hotel, in Burlington Ontario. I have been on this construction site since and have watched the building change from cement walls to suites, ballrooms, kitchens, and a Spa and it’s amazing to watch the transformation. This site has given me so many blessings, and lessons and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have an amazing team, and company that supports me and my endeavors. I have a crew that includes me in the process, which allows me to learn and grow as an apprentice, along with great foreman, journeyman and apprentices as mentors, brothers, and teachers.
Q: Anything Else you would like to add?
Shannon: One of the big things I have learned from life is you never get a break from the demands of bills and most people live life pay cheque to pay cheque, unprepared for any unexpected added expense. Due to this I have learnt the importance of loving what you do, along with finding a job that can allow you to thrive not just survive on your own. I picked the skilled trades and electrical because it was a job that I found to love and allowed me to have wants and the potential to retire. It is because of all my experiences that I think it is so important you take time to try different things, research opportunities, get your hands dirty, and explore your passions, while being realistic knowing one day you will have to support yourself on your dreams.
THANK YOU, SHANNON! WE LOOK FORWARD TO KEEPING UP WITH YOU THROUGH THE #PUMPTALK COMMUNITY!
KNOW AN AMAZING PERSON WHO IS MAKING VALUABLE CONTRIBUTIONS WITHIN INDUSTRY? NOMINATE THEM TO BE AN “INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE WEEK”!