With a BA in psychology, Lisa Langevin began her career as a behavioral consultant, working with teachers and families who had children with autism. It was a good cause, but the wrong fit. Lisa wanted a change. “I was burned out. I spent months reading, thinking and trying to figure out what to do. I wanted something that was fulfilling with decent money and benefits,” says Lisa. “One day a friend suggested I consider being an Electrician, and a light bulb went on.” Lisa looked into it, and never looked back. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard work.
“I didn’t have the advantage of working with my dad. I was green. I needed skills,” Lisa recalls. She took a six-month Pre-Apprenticeship Program at the British Columbia Institute for Technology that laid the groundwork for a four-year apprenticeship.
Lisa sent out a lot of applications before landing a position as an apprentice Electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers, Local 213. She’s been a certified journeyman Electrician for four years now, and currently works with the School District of Langley, BC, maintaining, repairing and installing new electrical components in schools. Even now, she’s only too happy to confide that she still gets a rush each time she hooks up a light bulb and turns on the switch.
One of Lisa’s first assignments was running four-inch piping at the YMCA in downtown Langley. Whenever she drives by, it reminds her that she made the right career choice. “I love being part of creating something. That building will stand for years to come. As an electrician, you’re able to create something that stands beyond your time.”
For Lisa, working in a field with few women has been a non-issue. “Once you prove you can do it, most guys are fine. They get that I can do the work, and do it well.”
Lisa’s advice for women considering the skilled trades as a career is to “jump in.” She recommends searching out other women in the field. “Find a support network.” Through social media, Lisa has made friends and shared experiences with tradeswomen all over Canada, the US and UK.
Given the shortage of skilled tradespeople, Lisa believes the timing is right for other women to take the leap. “It feels as though things are changing now. It shouldn’t matter if you’re male or female, as long as you can do the job.”
|Lisa is a representative of J♀urneyman, a national program that promotes, supports and mentors women in the unionized skilled construction trades. Read more about the J♀urneyman program.|