Syd

Powerline technician (PLT)

Saskatchewan

Canada




Three words that describe you?

Quiet, stubborn, creative


Who are your role models and mentors?

My mom is my number one fan. I look up to her, and she’s motivated me to constantly be the best I can be.

What is your favorite thing about your current job?

The variety that comes with the trade. Some days you’re 40 ft in the air, others you’re 8 ft in a muddy hole.


What originally got you interested in your current field of work?

I worked on a drilling rig as a roughneck. I realized in 2015 that oil wasn’t going to be a stable career choice. There is a bootcamp for PLT’s held in my hometown by the utility every year. It was physical, and I would have myself a career. The rest is history.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Do not let anyone else tell you what you should be doing with your life. I had excellent grades and was a choir/band nerd. Trades weren’t even mentioned when we were picking out schools. It was assumed if you did well in school you’d be sent off to university. I’m glad I only attended for 2 years when I realized that it was not for me.

When you started your current job, what most surprised you?

My own abilities. When there are very few people on your side rooting for you, it’s hard to feel like you’re in the right place. I know there were way more people who wanted to see me fail. (There still are) Good thing I’m stubborn!


Do you have an embarrassing or funny story you can share about work or something that has happened at work?

As women, we all know how hard it is to find a bathroom. Middle of nowhere, -40 outside, extremely windy. I had to pee BAD and I knew I had to before we started stringing wire. (gut strap sits right on the bladder) I run in front of the truck, pull my 5 layers down, and sit down HARD. Well, I failed to check where the winch was on the truck. I now have a dimple on my butt as a reminder to look before you pee!

Have you had to deal with conflict or confrontation while at work? How did you handle it?

A lot of it still goes on behind my back. Luckily I’m a fairly quiet and serious person and I am generally able to avoid conflict. I know a lot of women deal with people talking about them, and never actually coming to the individual. My job and learning is top priority, and I will speak up if anything is going to hinder that. Or just tell the guys I’ll be their boss someday haha.

Do you have any suggestions on how to encourage more women to try a career in the trades?

Co-op programs or pre entry programs are the best thing one can do. Most trade schools have introductory courses on trades for women. Also, reach out to local programs that help women navigate the trades. Or just simply message one of us! I know myself and many others are happy to talk to other women about our experience.

Who has had the biggest impact on your career choice?

Again I’ll have to thank my mom. She would be proud of me no matter what I did, but she’s happy I chose something where I can make good money and have the chance to move up the ladder.


What does your family think of your career?

Everyone is proud of me. I can only imagine it would be hard to think of your baby girl up in the middle of the night, during a storm, to return power. It can be a dangerous job, as hard as we try to keep everything safe.

If you could do anything, besides what you're doing now, what would you do?

Music. I started piano when I was 3 and excelled. I’ve travelled to China with a choir to sing in multiple languages, and been a part of musicals as well. I would have loved to teach music but I realized I can still enjoy music while making better money elsewhere.

What was the first thing you wanted to be when you grew up?

Astronaut! I was obsessed with space. I was a logical child and I realized after puking riding a fair ride that I could never be an astronaut.

What type of role do you want to take on after this one?

Some sort of management or teaching position. I’m already on a committee to better the apprenticeship program where I’m at. I want to make this trade the best it can be. I suppose my next role will be as a mother. I’m currently 8 months pregnant!

What do you remember most about your first job?

I was a kayak instructor when I was 13. I was a quiet kid, so it was hard for me to be open with the kids. It helped me be more outgoing and confident in my skills as a teacher.

 

How old were you when you started working?

13, but I grew up on a farm. I remember picking rocks in the field at age 5!

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

When I was an oilfield medic briefly. It was a toxic environment.


What are people always surprised to discover about you?

That you can be creative and also be in the trades. I love to sew, create, build, and sing in my spare time.

Who is your favorite person in the world?

My significant other. He is my biggest fan and constantly supports me in my career.

What is the craziest thing you hope to do one day? 

Even though I enjoy dealing with live electricity high up off the ground, I’m not much of an adrenaline junkie. I guess the next task on my list is giving birth!


Anything else you would like to add or comment on

It’s been stressful with being pregnant and navigating being an apprentice. COVID threw a wrench in my career plans so I decided right now was the right time to start a family. I’m hoping once I’m off on leave, I can write about my experience in hopes that it will help someone else.


Syd








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