RBC Women in Trades Blog

May: Your Dreams Come True (Alison Graber)

  Posted by on: May 13, 2016

Electrical Red Seal
The theme for this month is May: Your Dreams Come True. The women in trade’s blog will share some successes of our Red Seal trained and employed female tradesworkers! Our first successful tradesworker is Alison Graber, a Red Seal electrician, and graduate of TRU. She now works full-time for Advanced Electric located in Kamloops. The above photo was actually taken of Alison as she was working in the trades building doing electrical for TRU with the company she works for- talk about coming full circle!

Alison, thanks for sharing your time with us. First off, how did you get interested in trades?

It’s actually a pretty funny story. I never real felt like I belonged in high school. Like many others, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and felt lost in a sea of possible futures. So, instead of going to college and into debt for a job I didn’t even know if I liked, I went to speak with my counsellor about other options. I originally asked for information on the aesthetician program but she heard me wrong and gave me the paperwork for the electrician pre-app program. After a few days I realized trades were a great idea for a woman like me. I enjoyed physical work, I got on pretty well with boys, and I enjoyed the idea of learning something practical. Even if I ended up not liking it there was no money lost only time I would have spent doing possibly useless classes in grade twelve. Turns out it was meant to be. I fell in love with the job and everything that came with it.

Which year did you complete your training?
I completed my training in March of 2015

What skills do you think are important for anyone considering entering trades?
 For me the two greatest skills were patience and a sense of humour. As a woman in trades there will always be jokes and comments that may not be intended as mean spirited. Try not to take anything too personally and laugh stuff off more often. I found out where I would draw the line for when something gets offensive and I stick to it. I also let the men know where that line is so we can all have a more relaxed and positive work environment.

In my experience it’s not the older fellas you need patience with, it’s the young ones. The older men are always so excited to see a woman and they support my being there. The young ones, even though they won’t admit it, see us as a threat. We are proving to be just as capable at their job as they are and as women we are more in demand and more likely to get jobs due to hiring quotas. They are also usually more crass and inappropriate, that’s where the sense of humour comes back into play. I just do my best to show them that no matter my gender I am a great electrician and I deserve the jobs I have gotten and earned the opportunities to get them.

Has being in trades helped you financially?
Very much so I have almost completely paid off a brand new truck I bought four years ago and am currently looking at buying a house.

Any parting words?
I love my job; I never wake up dreading work. I can’t think of anything I would rather do than wake up as an electrician. Although some days it seems like a losing battle because we are still fighting for equality in the work place after all these years, we are setting examples and showing others that women deserve to be treated as equals in every work environment. I can’t have a slow day due to cramps and I can’t get too emotional and make the boys uncomfortable. But one day, because of the work I, and others like me do, we won’t have to hide those things. One day women in trades won’t be a big deal we’ll just be. I am incredibly proud to know that I stand with so many other powerful women in the fight for equality. My mom recently told me I was brave for doing what I am. She’s right. We are all brave and incredible, remember that!

We would like to say ‘Thank You’ to Alison for sharing her story with us so that we may share with all of you. Alison has agreed to come on board and play a role in our developing TRU Women in Trades mentorship program- that’s fantastic news! We are so lucky to have inspiring, caring, and honest alumni come forward and ‘give back’ to the community, especially to our women in trades. If you are a Red Seal Alumni and want to share your story, please contact the women in trades coordinator at witt@tru.ca. You never know, your story could change someone’s life!