IBEW Local 58 – Business Agent
- HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE TRADE?
My brother-in-law, who is a union mason said he would help me do some things around the house. Together we redid my driveway and carpentry work on the garage. I always helped him with projects around the house and learned. I love working with my hands. One day my brother-in-law brought over a booklet about the trades and the union. He wanted me to go into masonry. I looked at all the trades and programs, all the qualifications, including which ones got paid the most and said I know I can do this and became an electrician.
2. WHAT SHE DID BEFORE THE TRADE, SCHOOL?
I was a youth counselor and went to college to get my Business Administration Degree. At age 28, I decided I needed a change from being a youth counselor and the opportunity presented itself when my brother-in-law gave me the information booklet on the Trades and how to sign up and I just “took a chance.”
3. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PLACES YOU’VE WORKED?
I will never forget my very first job was on a January 5th in the middle of winter. Freezing cold out. I was assigned to the MGM Grand temporary Casino and was going to class at this same time with the IBEW. I worked with one contractor for a year at the casino and then moved on to an auto plant, then a steel mill doing big heavy industrial jobs. I’ve also worked at airports, oil refineries, schools, department stores doing a variety of jobs and many different places. Great experience learning something new along the way. It was always different, and I loved the variety.
In 2004, I finished my apprenticeship and as a Journeyman travelled to other states to work. In 2007, I came back home to Michigan and worked on various assignments then in 2012 I was hired to be on staff as a Business Agent which I love. I am the first female Business Agent for IBEW Local 58.
4. WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
I have always loved working with my hands and tools and love working with other people from contractors to union workers, etc. and sharing my knowledge. I enjoy helping other people and of course working with other women that she I mentor and share my experiences to help them. I like getting the word out about all the wonderful opportunities the trades have to offer.
5. WHY DO YOU FEEL ITS IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN TO CONSIDER THE TRADES?
For women, the Trades are a great opportunity. As I was growing up no one ever presented the industry to me, so I want to get the word out about how much the industry really has to offer. It gives a woman the opportunity to provide for the family whether married or single. I’m a single mom and it has been a wonderful and rewarding experience being in the trade knowing I can take care of my family. I want other women to know that being in this industry helps to build great confidence in yourself. I love feeling that I have worked on a particular building whether it be the lights, the power, etc. and it is part of something special.
6. ADVICE YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STARTING OR GROWING A CAREER WITH US?
Although the Trades are still dominated by men, there are so many great things for women in the trades. I want women to know that they do not have to be intimidated or afraid. There are other women and men there to help them succeed. New women coming in are not alone, there is a great support network across the country, in the union and on social media that is wonderful. Women new to the Trades need to know coming in that “we’ve got your back”.
7. WHAT QUALITIES MAKE YOU MOST SUCCESSFUL IN THE TRADE?
I believe the quality that makes me most successful is my willingness to help. I have the tenacity, the will to not give up, the toughness to get through the fears and have learned to take the deep breath. If I fall, I get back up because I know I’ve got my brothers and sisters in the industry, which is a true family and they have got my back all the time. It’s my willingness to help others that is what I want to pass on also to those coming in to the trade.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
I want others to know that it doesn’t matter what background you come from, or if you’ve finished high school, completed college or not, all are welcome in the trades. I want to help others focus on their future and keep moving forward.
When I first wanted to get into the program, I had to wait in a long, long line which went around the building with hundreds of others in line, mostly all men, just to get the application. I got discouraged, but thought that since I’d driven so far, I might as well stick it out. I did, applied and learned to never give up hope. You can do this too!