Electrical work is hard. There’s a lot of math and physics involved, the work can be quite physically demanding, and travel for work can be extensive. But if you talk to Amanda Young, you’ll find that what can be the most challenging is working with so many different people. Whether in a classroom or on a job site, the group dynamics are something that must be managed. However, especially that she’s now teaching her trade, Amanda finds that the people are also the most enjoyable part of her job.
After trying floristry and early childhood education, Amanda’s desire for a higher income turned her attention to becoming an electrician. After starting as a labourer, and then going through her electrical apprenticeship, she’s now had her ticket for about 10 years. She’s worked on a variety of jobs over the years, even taking her to the oil sands in Alberta.
“It was amazing. We were in an isolated area, but there were 2000 people working in the camp. Hundreds of buses were transporting people back and forth all the time, all different shifts and all different trades. And there were 6 camps like this.” She also enjoyed getting to use tools and machinery that she never would otherwise have seen, and to travel to places she may not have visited. For free, no less!
In recent years, Amanda has turned more toward teaching. Over the past six years, she has taught intermittently at Georgian College, and now she is the Lead Teacher for the Electrical Techniques program at Georgian. Not only is she responsible for her own classes, but three other teachers report to her, plus she has the responsibility of looking after program needs such as tools, materials, textbooks and curricula. Amanda’s passion for teaching has provided her with a number of other opportunities to speak to youth about her career, including through the YMCA, WIST (Women in Skilled Trades) and Women on Words.
The most important thing to remember going into an apprenticeship is that it can be demanding. You don’t always get to do what you want, but you need to learn what you can, and stick it out until you get to the point where you can pick and choose your jobs. Math skills are important, and you need to be versatile.
Particularly for young women, Amanda's advice is this: “be prepared for obstacles, and bring a positive attitude. It’s easy to get dragged down by others’ attitudes and behaviours. Try to look at your workmates as people, not just a bunch of guys. If you have confidence in yourself, the people you work with will reflect that.”
Amanda was a mentor at this year’s “Skills Work!® for Women” Networking Dinner in Barrie on November 15, 2011.