Fashion Designer Turned Welder

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Image of woman in safety glasses and overalls holding a welding helmet and gloves next to a welding booth.

Meet Shelby.  Boilermaker may not be the first thing you think of when you see her, but that is what she does by trade.  She has worked in pulp mills, oil refineries and even on an oil rig in Newfoundland, building oil storage tanks.  She is currently a C-level welding student at College of the Rockies.  She enrolled in the program to further her knowledge of welding because there is a lot of it involved in the boilermaker trade.

Shelby originally went to school to work in the fashion industry, focussing on fashion design.  She decided that work in that industry wasn’t for her so sought a career where she could make good money and have a lot of time off to enjoy life.  A Women in Trades program helped her to realize a career in the trades was the right move for her.

Originally from the Vancouver region, Shelby came to work at the Skookumchuk Pulp Mill during a shutdown and fell in love with the area.  A downturn in the economy helped her to decide the time was right to go back to school.  She hopes her welding training will allow her to work locally so she can stay in the “most beautiful place on earth.”

“There’s just something about the Kootenays,” she says.  “You can find a back road in five minutes and go hiking without crowds of people around.”

She’s been enjoying her time at the College, finding it a good school for welding and commenting that the instructors have a lot of wisdom.  She would encourage other women to consider a career in the trades but does note that you need a willingness to work hard – and that a strong personality doesn’t hurt.

Shelby isn’t letting go of her design training, completely, though.  She has created some pretty sweet welding beanies for her fellow students.  With a combination of design savvy and some mad welding skills, we’re sure Shelby is going to do great things.  Keep up the good work!