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Krystal Esparza


Austin, Texas

United States

Three words that describe you?

Ambitious, goofy, and resilient.

Who are your role models and mentors?

Since I was 14 or 15 a huge role model in my life has been my friend Cat, who I met through skateboarding. At the time not very many women skated, and we were the only ones we knew of on the scene where we’re from so we stuck together. I didn’t have older siblings or healthy influences in my family, and she is 10 or so years older than me so I’ve always looked to her for guidance, inspiration and advice for the last 15 years.

What is your favorite thing about your current job?

What I like about where I work right now is that I get a lot of variety in my work tasks. It’s a small company, so everyone has to be able to do everything since there are only a handful of employees. One day I might be welding, the next I might be doing an installation out in the field. I’m also one of the more experienced people there so I get a lot of opportunities to teach what I’ve learned to others as I go. What originally got you interested in your current field of work?

My interest in welding started in high school, and it was honestly on accident. I didn’t know what to pick as an elective course, and a counselor was the one who pushed me into the class. She knew I liked skateboarding and thought welding would suit me. When she told me, I could learn to build skate rails I was sold. The first time I welded I fell in love, and I took the course every semester after that. I excelled in welding and shop project competitions, and my teacher recommended it as a career course for me. Though I was pressured into choosing a different career, I never stopped thinking about welding and finally jumped back into it full force two years ago.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

If I could go back and give myself advice, I would tell myself to do what I love no matter what anyone else says. I would also tell myself to apply for jobs even if I am not 100% qualified. I watched too many people (mostly men) get better jobs with less experience and skills than I have just because they weren’t afraid to try for the position and because they had confidence in their abilities. I would tell myself not to hold myself back.

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

I was most surprised at the culture difference between my last job and this job when I first started. People at my job now are more liberal and there’s value in work life balance. This was quite different from my last job where we worked 60 or more hours a week and everyone was generally conservative. That is the difference between having a job in Austin vs. a job in Dripping Springs.

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

The first story to pop in my mind when I think of a funny or embarrassing moment is the time, I caught my underwear on fire. I knew that polyester was highly flammable, and we weren’t allowed to wear it to work for that reason. But I didn’t think that my polyester underwear was risky too if I was wearing cotton clothes over it. That being said, caught a pretty good spark on my ass that went through my pants and immediately my underwear lit up. I had a decent hole on one cheek and burns all over my ass from the material. I had to go tell my boss what happened and ask to run down to the dollar store nearby for a fresh, cotton pair. He laughed at the whole thing and before the day was up everyone knew what happened. Even funnier is that it became the safety topic at our next safety meeting too.

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

I did have to deal with a lot of conflict at my last job when I moved up to Quality Control. By that point I was the only woman working on the shop floor and I had less experience than everyone there. There were a lot of guys with a lot of experience who didn’t appreciate me rejecting their builds when they were wrong. A lot of guys tried telling me they knew better than I did and tried to intimidate me. I stood my ground though, stood by my decisions and kept my confidence in my ability to read a print. It was rough for a while in that position, I eventually proved I knew what I was doing, and things got easier.

Who has had the biggest impact on your career choice?

I have so many friends to thank for why I’m welding today. They’ve known for years that I love the trades and love to weld. They’ve been encouraging me for years to go for it. My friends Cat, Cori, Marisa, Achelle, Aynne, Meagen, Shelbi and so many other strong women who somehow played a part in getting me here. Between them finding the school I would go to, scheduling tours with advisors, and just being there for me whenever I needed, they’re really the ones to thank for all of it.

What does your family think of your career?

I’m not close with my family, so aside from my younger siblings who all think it’s really cool and are proud, I’m not sure what anyone else thinks. If my dad was still alive, I know he would be stoked too. To me that’s really all that matters.

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

If I had to choose something other than welding, I guess it would also be some other trade. I just really love working with my hands!

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

The first thing I can remember wanting to be was a writer. I loved to read and write poems and short stories. I didn’t mind writing essays in school. Up until I was about 14, I thought I would do something with writing.

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

After this job I hope to be successfully running my own fabrication shop! It’s already in the works and I’ve been doing side projects for a while now.

What do you remember most about your first job?

My first legal job was as a server at Chili’s when I turned 18, and what I always remember most was the painful process of overcoming my crippling social anxiety. I specifically chose a job that would force me to interact with tons of people everyday for that purpose. It was hard, but definitely worth it.

How old were you when you started working?

Legally, I started working when I was 18. But I can remember working as young as 7 or 8 in my mom’s convenient store helping stock shelves, clean and take inventory. We have always been expected to work in family businesses. I even had my own little business selling snacks and drinks out of a duffel bag in high school. They called me Candy Hustler. Work has been part of my life as long as I can remember.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

Worst job I’ve had was in a call center while I was going to welding school. The company was great, they offered so many great perks and offered so many amenities to make everyone comfortable. But damn that position was too much for me. It was the first job I ever quit without a two-week notice. Fortunately, that was a regular occurrence and managers knew the position was taxing on people, so no one held it against me.

Who is your favorite person in the world?

My favorite person in the world is my Dad, RIP. He was the coolest person ever and was always supportive of me and let me be myself, even when no one else would.

Anything else you would like to add or comment on?

Last thing I want to say is for any woman who might be considering a career in the trades but might be having fear or doubts. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should do with your life. The one who has to live it is you, and you deserve to do something you love. Don’t think that because the industry is male dominated that a woman can’t be successful in this world. You will be surprised to find how many men out there are just winging it and don’t know half of what they’re doing. They’re out there doing it anyway. There is no reason we can’t go out there and do it too. We just have to be brave, confident and own the space we’re in.

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Jul 16, 2021

Loved reading your story. Been in and out of TX all my life, welding for the last 44, 8 of which were running my own shop. I teach HS metal trades currently. I wish I could say that there are a lot more women in the trades since I began in ‘77, but no. I have a hard time getting young girls into my program. I know they would love it if they gave it a shot. I’m working on it.

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