The turning point: From sales to the trades

female late teens or early 20s working on soldering metal and wires while sitting at table.

By Hollie Cook ’14 (Mechanical Techniques – Electrical Monitoring & Systems)

There are moments in my life that I know, looking back, were turning points.

Either I was at a crossroads, or in some cases feeling like I was at a dead end, and needed to figure out a way to forge ahead. The wake of some of these turning points weren’t seen until a decade or later, after I’d known people, seen places and experienced things all of which could be traced back to one decision.

One major turning point in my life happened when I was working as a sales representative, almost 4 years into the job. I felt I had made the position as much as I could over my time with the company, including changing locations and helping bring things up to speed. I was beginning to get the itch to do something new, and I knew wanted to further my education in some way. I needed to decide if I wanted to continue on the same track and attend marketing or business school? Or, change things entirely.

The question was answered for me when a clue landed in my lap.

A digital shot clock that I had recently sold to a customer came back shortly after it was purchased, with the on/off switch broken. I called the supplier, and that was something he’d be able to fix. The biggest delay would be the travel time. The clock would have to ship from Ontario to BC, get fixed and be sent back. With shipping time, we were looking at a three week turnaround.

Curious, I opened the clock and took a look at the inner workings. I’d covered some basic electrical in the construction technology course I took in high school, and this was a straightforward swap. I called the supplier back, and told him to ship me the switch instead. I would fix it, myself. He walked me through a couple details over the phone, and sent the replacement part out ASAP.

It was in my Mum’s kitchen, soldering the wires to the contacts of the new switch when I had my revelation: this is it! This is what I get excited about!

It wasn’t more than a few months later, I was attending Mohawk College, taking the Mechanical Techniques - Electrical Monitoring & Systems program. From there I works as an electrical apprentice for years before obtaining my license in 2018. Since, I have met a lot of interesting people, attended talks and dinners for Women in Trades, written about my experiences online, and advocated not just for women, but for all people to explore trades careers.

This originally appeared on the Mohawk Alumni blog on March 16, 2018.