When I first went to art school out of high school, I could never have imagined it would lead to an industrial welding career but I have a few things I would have done when I was younger and greener (less experienced).
First of all, had I been a single woman in my twenties, I would have liked to go work “up North” (that is, in the more remote and highly desirable jobs in Canada) for a couple years and made the $100,000/year I was offered right out of welding school. After a few years, I would have had a completely different experience and I would have been able to buy a couple acres in the Comox Valley in the late nineties, before the price of land skyrocketed.
Secondly, I would have liked to travel and work as a welder in different countries. One of the reasons I went into trades was to be employable anywhere in the world. Or at least anywhere women welders are allowed to exist. There are still a lot of welding jobs only available to men between 25 and 45 years old.
Also, I wish I had gone to school to finish my welding journeyman’s training. Every time I got a spot in school coincided with starting a new job or the welding shop getting a big contract and needing me to work more…
If my circumstances had been different, I would have loved to go around different high schools with a group of trades’ women and inspire young people to choose trades as a career.
Furthermore, I wish I could have trained more apprentices. I have had the foresight to ask all the older fabricators and welders I worked with as many questions as possible and have gathered an extensive knowledge of the trade. I still have so much to learn, but would have loved to share the knowledge already acquired with others.
This leads me to my last “regret”. I most of all wish I could meet other women welders to share my experiences with. However, because of where I live, my interactions with other women welder/fabricators have been lacking. When I went to trade school in 1999 in Campbell River, they hadn’t seen a woman go through the welding training in over five years and I was the first to want to do industrial welding. All other women were interested in creative (or “artsy”) welding, which is no less valid, but much different than the type of work I do.
Most of the things I regret, aside from the last, are actually career choices I made because I wanted to be there to raise my amazing kid. I made the choices I did so that my daughter would have a mother that was present and an integral part of her upbringing.