Tradeswoman blazes trail in construction design field

Katherine is working on the computer.

Katherine ‘21 turned to Mohawk College in search of a directional change for her career. She considered Mohawk to have a high-quality educational standard and decided the Architectural Technology program is where she would restart her professional journey.

“I chose the Architectural Technology program because I have always been interested in real estate, buildings and construction,” she says. “It is one of the fundamental needs of human life.”

Mohawk’s three-year, provincially accredited Architectural Technology diploma program allowed Katherine to learn relevant skills and qualifications needed to thrive in her new field of work. She gained a combination of technical knowledge and understanding of the science behind design and construction while applying those skills practically in class projects.

As Katherine worked through her program, she found enjoyment in her estimation and Ontario building code classes. With her interest in real estate and new-found joy in the production side of construction, Katherine decided this was the path her career was meant to take.

Schoolwork wasn’t the only thing Katherine focused on. She branched out to grow her talents in key communities within Mohawk’s walls. Anything she could do to build a foundation for her future was top of mind, both inside the classroom and beyond it.

“There are a lot of learning opportunities in addition to classes that allowed me to make connections, improve skills and face new challenges,” she says.

Her first venture outside of her courses was working with Mohawk’s Applied Research team.

“I had a great learning experience working with the Applied Research team in the Construction department at Mohawk. I enjoyed working with drones and applying this technology to different projects and real-life applications,” she says.

Katherine was thriving, but she sought something more. That’s when she decided to join Mohawk’s Women in Technology & Trades (WiTT) community.

WiTT is a group that exists to elevate opportunity for women in all fields of technology and trade to network, explore career options and find gainful employment through pathways for success. This group stemmed from a 2017 research project conducted on women in trades, which found that approximately 3-5 percent of today’s skilled trades workforce identify as women.

Katherine knew the path she’d been paving for herself wasn’t going to be easy and reflects on her decision to join WiTT as an integral one to her current success.

“[WiTT] helped me to think more independently, build confidence and encouraged me to plan my future,” she says. “I feel proud to be part of this group of women demonstrating we are talented, professional people who are an integral part of the trades.”

Katherine is one of the few women in a growing community who are blazing a trail in the trades. She credits WiTT for bringing career opportunities into focus for women and underrepresented groups in these fields.

“As more women fill jobs in trades like construction and manufacturing, we will be able to battle stereotypes and underrepresentation challenges that women are currently facing,” she says.

Not only did Katherine lean into growth opportunities that presented themselves at Mohawk, but she also got hired through the very community that shaped her professional pathway.

“In 2022, I received an invitation to attend a symposium hosted by WiTT,” she explains. “The event had a diverse panel of speakers working in technology and trades. Branthaven Homes caught my attention because of my architecture career path. They were hiring, so I sent my resume through the WiTT organizers. I was called for an interview shortly after.”

One year after graduation in 2021, Katherine had achieved a job in her established career path. She works at Branthaven Homes as a production coordinator, primarily working with contracts and clarifying design selections to product orders for the construction sites.

“I enjoy working with talented people in a great company with a positive culture and healthy work-life balance among employees,” Katherine says. “The way I work with my team is efficient and organized, which makes it less stressful and more enjoyable.”

If there is one piece of advice to give prospective students looking to be where Katherine is, it is to make the most of your college experience

She says, “Get involved in college activities as much as you can. Class learning is really important but there are valuable learning opportunities outside of the classroom, too. Student life can be busy, but you are the only one in control of your future.”