Choosing a non-traditional career

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One woman’s story of listening to her gut and finding the career of her dreams

Sit at a desk in an office all day? “Not a chance,” says Alysha Buchy.

As a high school student, Alysha was excited to attend shop classes, and even enjoyed math so when it came to choosing her career path, she drew on her strengths and pursued a future as an electrician.

“I think women have a natural aptitude for trades and can offer different skills when it comes to critical thinking and problem solving,” she said.

Alysha completed the Electrician foundation program at College of the Rockies, finding it such a positive and motivating experience she was eager to continue her training.

“I found all the teachers to be encouraging, while offering a safe place to learn and receive constructive criticism,” she said. “There was another female student in the program, and we developed a great friendship and still keep in touch.”

Alysha was also introduced to a unique opportunity offered through the College – the Mining Apprenticeship Program (MAP). Through this program, she earned her apprenticeship work-based training hours at local mine sites operated by Teck Coal’s Elk Valley Operations, with the College acting as employer-sponsor.

Now a Red Seal certified electrician, Alysha is employed full-time at a Teck Coal mine in southeastern British Columbia. Not only has she found her ideal career, she still has time to pursue her favourite outdoor activities – like fishing – that are plentiful in the BC Rocky Mountains.

“I think any female who is considering a career in a non-traditional field like the trades should just go for it. It’s been a very positive experience and a time of growth,” Alysha said. “Don’t be scared to reach out to other women who are in the skilled trades. Social media is a great platform to use to communicate and get advice.”

Many Canadian colleges, including College of the Rockies, offer access to a Women in Trades Mentorship program, providing access to support and guidance from experienced tradeswomen. Taking advantage of services like this can help make the entry into a non-traditional field less intimidating for many females.

And with many current journey-level tradespeople nearing the age of retirement, now is an ideal time for females to consider a well-paying career in a non-traditional field. Currently less than 5 per cent of those in the skilled trades identify as female, but that number is continuing to rise as more and more young women discover the joy of stepping away from a desk and exploring a career in the trades.