Caitlin's Story :
I had always struggled to find my place in the fast-paced environment I live in, time seems to fly by and before you know it, you’re moving onto the next chapter in the novel we call life. It took me a lot of blood, sweat and tears to find my passion. I believe in life, you should always strive for something. A person should have a goal to work to throughout their lifetime, something to be truly proud of. 4 years ago, I found mine. Something so simple yet challenging in today’s society. I strive to help end the stigma behind women in the trades. While it has died down in recent years, all around the words women are still experiencing it, the stereotypes based upon something as simple as gender. I wish to use my story and passion to help change the world for the better and make an impact on such a strong subject.
4 years ago I had just started high school, the scary new world most teens have to face at some point in their lives. I remember being scared, unknowing of where I could go. Even then, the question of ‘what are you going to do with your life after high school?’ still haunted me. The truth was, I had no clue. That was until I stepped foot in my schools metal shop. I found myself in my element, welding and specifically creating something was enjoyable. It was something I could imagine doing for the rest of my life without questioning it. My teacher, the wise man he was, continuously supported me throughout the years, I can rightfully say that without him, my passion could’ve gone unnoticed. One day he said something powerful, a quote that has stuck by me and motivated me for years, “girls will always be better, not because of gender, but because they have to try harder to prove themselves”. It was true, the trades, as much as I loved them, seemed like a toxic place. Countless adults told me how inspiring it was to be a girl wanting to go in the trades, I was honoured but at the same time, I wondered why it seemed so foreign. I learned the sick truth that unlike in those shop classes that I grew to love so much, equality wasn’t something that was common. I would have to work ten times harder to prove my worth and be recognized based upon my skill and not my gender. It was in those beloved shop classes that I not only found out what I wanted to do in the future, but I found a purpose that I would be proud to devote my time to.
Recently, several opportunities have arisen that has allowed me to fulfil my passion for the trades as well as get some experience in the ‘real world’. My school held a dual credit class that allowed me to not only learn inside my own school but Fleming college also. The program introduced us to the intriguing world of carpentry, as-well-as the several branches that connect to the skill. We learned the basics that would be taught in the first year of college, while also building a shed in my schools metal shop class. It was amazing to really see the ins and outs of building something so technical, everything had to be precise, it was like building a puzzle, apart from the fact that one wrong move could send a structure tumbling down. I found myself indulging in the lessons more than I would’ve thought I would. Once again I found something I could imagine myself doing. The teacher that led the class in the high school recommended that I go to this meetup, where companies seek out young people looking for jobs. Even though I was still technically in high school, I was invited based upon my skill and who I am as a person. It was uplifting to see my hard work, all the days I spent trying to prove myself, be successful
and land me in a place for a potential job. I still didn’t know what trade I wanted to go into, in fact, I’m still unsure. But I went to that meeting with high hopes, in the end landing me a job at Trojan Classroom Furniture for the summer. It was nerve-wracking, even though I believed I was skilled with my hands, it was a new environment and I didn’t want to make a bad impression. But everyone there treated me kindly, I enjoyed every day I spent there, learning more and more with every hour. The experience was something I cannot fully describe with words, it was both enlightening but also nerve-wracking as-well. But I can confidently say that this past summer was one of the best so far, the people at Trojan were friendly, welcoming and so helpful. They really made the workplace a safe and fun place to work in. They were the people that nominated me, the thought that they believed in me and supported me enough to actually think about nominating me was and will be the best feeling in the world. I can never truly thank them enough for not only the opportunities they gave me but the amount of support and help they gave me throughout my time working there.
Throughout my life, several experiences have paved the path that would lead me to not only discover my passion for the trades but the message I want to send to the world. I’m truly thankful for everyone who has helped me along the way, without them I probably would still be clueless to what I actually want to achieve in life. But in the end, life is as good as you make it. I have big plans, they start as soon as possible