Finding opportunity in the skilled trades after a setback

Michelle wearing a Mohawk College sweater standing inside the Stoney Creek Campus for Skilled Trades

Setbacks are part of life, but did you know that some of the most accomplished people attribute their success to failure?  

Michael Jordan famously said "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." 

At surface level, it seems ironic that the path to high achievement is lined with setbacks. When you dig deeper, it starts to make sense. Every person on earth will experience a setback, so the people who triumph are the people who find new opportunities to move past obstacles in their way.  

Michelle, a Manufacturing Engineering Technician - Automation (Industrial Mechanic Millwright) Diploma student, is one of those people. In 2020, when many of our lives were flipped upside down as we faced a global pandemic, Michelle was in her last year of a Mechanical Engineering Degree program in Brazil.  

Her university closed its doors because of COVID-19.  

She knew she needed to refocus her goals. She made the difficult decision to move to Canada with her husband and daughter. Much of her knowledge from her earlier studies would be transferrable to the Mechanical Engineering Technology Advanced Diploma, but she wanted to take advantage of the opportunities that Canada provides, particularly to women. 

“I always wanted to study something more hands-on. In Brazil, as in many countries, when women want to study or work in male-dominated areas such as Engineering, they end up being directed to the business side, such as technical sales. We do not have opportunities. Here in Canada, I could see a strong will to change this scenario,” says Michelle. 

The Industrial Mechanic Millwright Diploma satisfied her desire to work with her hands and use the math, problem solving, and creativity skills she learned in Brazil studying Mechanical Engineering. 

Her next step is to secure an apprenticeship. Once she graduates from the Industrial Mechanic Millwright program, she will be exempt from the in-school training portion of the Industrial Mechanic (Millwright) apprenticeship.  

Michelle is grateful for her career pivot and is enjoying her program so far, especially the challenging and interesting aspects of hydraulics. “As a millwright, you need to have knowledge in several areas. You are like a ‘doctor’ of the big machines. It´s an important trade,” says Michelle. 

Change can bring challenges, but challenges bring opportunity.