RBC Women in Trades Blog

Meet Sarah Zylstra!

  Posted by on: March 16, 2016

Sarah Z

Sarah Zylstra, a former 2013 WiTT student, and now a 3rd-year Electrical Apprentice, spoke with the TRU WiTT on March 11, 2016. Sarah shared her trades story with the women noting four years ago she would never have guessed she would be in her 3rd-year apprenticeship in electrical. In fact, she came into WiTT ‘by accident’. Up to that point, she had primarily been working in retail, and a number of unrelated circumstances brought her to TRU to speak with Heather and the next thing she knew, she was enrolled in the WiTT program. She hasn’t looked back since. Since then, Sarah has had a hand in some great opportunities including doing electrical on the new Cascades Casino, KRCC, various hotels around Kamloops and also building houses for Habitat for Humanity. These experiences have given her a broad range of skills and no two days are the same.

Though these are wonderful opportunities, they didn’t just ‘fall on her lap’. She worked hard and would attend to job sites looking for work, dressed in her coveralls and lunch in hand. Sometimes it would take a few return trips, but the reward paid off.
Sarah had words of advice to the women, who are now in their construction and craftworker segment of the program:
“Apply yourself and work really hard, and it will pay off.”
Sarah also shared that through your work experience, you may encounter some ‘great and not-so-great’ situations, but in the end, if you stick it out and have a good attitude, things will work out, and you will be glad you grew a thick skin.
Lastly, she encouraged the students to ‘try harder’ when things aren’t going their way. She notes that she wasn’t successful in one part of her accuplacer when she first attempted it, but she found a tutor, some online resources, studied, and was able to pass the accuplacer to enter into electrical. She didn’t let the one barrier stop her from continuing on.
“There are a lot of good resources out there- a lot of places and people want to help. I used Street School- they were great! Also, TRU instructors are really helpful and supportive; they are often are here before class starts and after it ends to help students. However, they want to see you trying before they put in the time for you. Whatever you do, put in the effort, and if they see that, then they will help you.”
The Women in Trades February 2016 intake would like to give a huge ‘Thanks!’ to Sarah visiting the class. One of the most meaningful aspects for the women in trades program, other than finding a trade of their liking, is hearing first-hand stories from women who were once in their shoes and are now successful.
If you are a past WiTT , or a female working in the trades and would like to come in and speak to some of the women in trades, we would love to hear from you! Please contact jnarcisse@tru.ca