Updated: Apr 9
Syracuse, New York
Three words that describe you?
Motivated. Creative. Loving.
Who are your role models and mentors?
My instructor from welding school Mr. Gordy and my old boss Mickey who worked at my job and I worked under when I was still an intern.
What is your favorite thing about your current job?
Working in retail previously, I really like that I get to work alone and don't have to deal with the public. I also like building a product from start to finish and seeing my finished result. Its a very satisfying feeling.
What originally got you interested in your current field of work?
Some poor choices landed me serving 5 years in prison. Both my brothers and step dad are welders so when I had to pick a prison job welding seemed like a good fit. It also paid the most at .38 cents per hour. We made trash cans and grills for state parks and property.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
I would have told myself to get into welding sooner. If it wasn't for going to prison, I honestly NEVER would have even dreamed of welding. I was never interested what so ever and it wasn't until I picked up that mig gun that I fell in love. So I definitely would have done it a lot sooner!!
When you started your current job, what most surprised you?
I think it really surprised me how many men out there truly believe women aren't capable of this job. I found that my work would get checked with an eagle eye and it was almost as if they were looking for a mistake. I don't deal with it as much anymore because I think I have proved myself here at work, but I still get negative comments every now and then on my Instagram about how I'm just doing this for attention or things of that nature. I see it on a lot of other blue collar women's posts as well, and its simply not true. I just post pictures of what I can, and my daily life. It's 2020 and you can be a girly girl and still get down and dirty at work!
Have you had to deal with conflict or confrontation while at work? How did you handle it?
I once had a boss who hit on me and made me very uncomfortable for years. He would do things like call my name from across the shop floor, have me walk all the way over to him just for him to say only "shut up, Sara". Or things like invite me over when he knew my spouse would be out of town. I never wanted to be the reason someone couldn't provide for their family so I put up with it for a long time and just did my best to avoid him. When he made a comment to me that its normal for spouses to cheat when their partner goes out of town a lot, is when I got fed up and finally said something. I wasn't the first female who had a problem with him, so thank goodness he was fired. Looking back now I wish I had said something sooner.
Do you have any suggestions on how to encourage more women to try a career in the trades?
Just go for it! Don't think too hard or you will talk yourself out of it. I just signed up for welding school one day and the rest is history. There were plenty of times I told myself I'm silly for doing this or no one will hire me. Looking back I am so so glad I didn't listen to myself and kept pushing forward. I've found women have a better attention to detail and hand eye coordination which equals some beautiful beads!
Who has had the biggest impact on your career choice?
This would definitely be my brothers and step dad who work in the plumbers and pipe-fitters union.
What does your family think of your career?
My family thinks its awesome I weld! We're a family of welders. My father was a mechanic my whole life and also did a little mig welding. He is so proud and literally tells anyone who will listen that his daughter welds.
If you could do anything, besides what you're doing now, what would you do?
I would want to own my own business being a health coach and helping other women who struggle with addiction love themselves. That, and I also want to open a doggy daycare with my husband!
What was the first thing you wanted to be when you grew up?
I always said I wanted to be an astronaut
What type of role do you want to take on after this one?
I eventually want to be a business owner. I never want to give up welding and will continue to do that always out of my garage but see myself owning some sort of business. Either health coaching or me and my husband want to open a doggy daycare!
How old were you when you started working?
Around 15. My first job was at California Pizza Kitchen
What are people always surprised to discover about you?
People are always shocked when they find out I have served time in prison. I think this is a wonderful thing as I have changed and grown so much that I am no longer that person.
Who is your favorite person in the world?
My husband is my favorite person in the world. We make a great team and without his patience and support I wouldn't be where I am today.
What is the craziest thing you hope to do one day?
Well, I don't really have any crazy plans! I guess some people would say opening your own business is crazy but I'm a firm believer that the universe provides you with the life that you truly think you deserve. And I know there's more out there for me!
Anything else you would like to add or comment on?
I would just like to add that welding has been the glue holding my life together these past 10 years. I even met my husband at work! I'll be celebrating 10 years heroin free this December and I want other people struggling with addiction to know that they too can have a meaningful life. And I want other women to know that they don't need to do what's traditional! You can be a girly girl and still get down and dirty at work!