I drool at the thought of all the work that is coming up the pike in eastern Canada. I wish I was an able bodied woman again and could strap on my tool belt and head out there to join the wave of workers who will be heading into town to make it big. Oh the thought of purchasing my own big ass truck with the latest bells and whistles is almost too much to think about. Back in the day sista, I would have been right there with the best of them.
Now I get to work in an advisory capacity - it's not so shabby, keeps me in the loop. I believe that knowledge is right up there with chocolate when it comes to the trades. If you are a woman who wants to get in the game, there are a couple of things you need to know.
I'll start from when you graduate from college because you're not going to listen to me about buckling down at college - you may regret the partying and skipping class. But for those of you who are listening - get a great education now because the learning environment gets a lot tougher where the rubber hits the road. Be a sponge in the classroom and read up on the women who are doing well - they maximize their own potential.
Get a trade - the days are long gone when people got hired without any formal training. The industry is very technical and you need as much information as you can get. Put your nose to the grind at Community College because marketing is going to be tough. Landing that job will take perseverence and creativity.
Be a great communicator - people don't understand that communication is a learned skill. The more you do it the better off you will be. You may be saying right now - I can communicate, I use my Blackberry. There's a time and a place for your texting but I mean functional communication - the kind you will need in the trades.
Let me put this into perspective. When you go looking for a job, competition will be tough. Let's say that two ladies show up at the same time. One has all As on her transcript from her course. The other as Bs and Cs. Guess who gets the job.....the one that can communicate best. The one that can articulate best. The one that make them laugh and knows her stuff. In this game, you learn on the job and those who fit in well get the opportunities for learning. That may be unfair but it's the way things are.
Imagine you're on the site and you notice a hazard that you need to alert your fellow workers about. You don't get to text that message with multiple recipients - you get to holler so that they get their attention. When you go out into the world and want to land the client, you have to have the savvy to be able to communicate with them in a fashion that is professional and courteous. Then there is the biggie - you're going to own your own business someday - that means you'll need some pretty great communication skills. Start now - when you're young and you'll impress everyone. It will give you an edge over those who are also looking. I learned all that I need to know about communicating from Toastmasters - find a local club.
Join the union - I can't stress this enough. Join the union. Go to meetings. Use your newly acquired skills. Volunteer to do some tasks. Be around the men, learn from them, listen to them. Their communication style may seem harsh at first but it's the way the culture is. Don't let it intimidate you - there are a lot of teddy bears under that tough exterior. Know that - you'll get used to being around the culture. Big jobs are unionized and they make lots of money there - if you're interested in commercial construction, join the union and keep current on your dues.
Visit job sites and enquire about work. Now this might seem kind of intimidating. But if you're not working anyhow, you have time on your hands. Maybe you can't be hired but you can hang around and get used to the culture. Speak to women workers - even the flagsperson can tell you a lot about the culture and the rules of the game.
The real leaders in life learn to do things in the downtime that give them an edge when things are going well. Do you spend your unemployed time complaining or are you taking advantage of free learning that is available in the community. I know where I would be.
Don't show up with an attitude that you're going to change the world. Yes, there are things wrong with the industry but you don't reveal your hand too early. There are ways to do things right and showing up with an agenda is not a way to get ahead. There's a process to fitting in at work.
If you're an older worker who has taken up the profession lately - after the best are hired, the woman who is low maintenance is hired. She is the woman who fits in with the men. She has a great personality. Personality is a learned characteristic. Study people with great personality - what do they do. Try and be like them. People with a bad attitude wear it on their sleeve for the world to see. Do what it takes to become a positive person. There's nothing worse than a wet rag.
People ask me - how many times do I call the union to try and get hired. I say call once a week if you know that they're hiring. Drop in from time to time to let them see your face. The reality is that when a job comes up and you happen to be there - you're the person who is hired. Become known. You may say to yourself - that takes a lots of guts. Well, personally I think that you're up to the task. When you chose a career in the trades, you demonstrated that you had lots of guts. If you wanted an easier transition you could have taken esthetics....traditional work with different hurdles. No disrespect to the profession - I love my gel nails for special events.
I can't stress enough how important it is to join the union. I just met 6 ladies who graduated last year and only two joined the union. Guess what folks, those other four just created a new hurdle - getting known and getting in the loop. Join the union and take the free courses that are being held there.
The truth is this - the time is ripe for women entering the trades - they need people. You have to be a bit assertive to get there. Learn how to be assertive by practicing. If you get it wrong, try again. It's an exciting venture....good luck in your journey.