A little more about me. 

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My Journey thus far

My name is Shannon Tymosko, I’m 32 years of age, a 2nd year Electrical Apprentice, KickAss Career Ambassador and advocate for the skilled trades. I was raised in a small town called Keswick, about an hour north of Toronto in Canada. Keswick is known for its beautiful lake views and ice fishing which brings people from all around. I was fortunate to be raised on the lake. Swimming, fishing and boating are some of my fondest memories growing up.

My childhood and youth was pretty typical. There was my mom (Chevy), dad (Peter) and older sister (Samantha). I have often compared our life to the TV show "Everybody Loves Raymond", as my father's parents lived directly across the street from my newly married parents, so you can imagine many of these episodes played out in my house. I was lucky to have a mother who was not afraid to pick up a tool to build something, and very fortunate to be signed up for almost everything, keeping my parents busy shuttling me and my sister around; swimming, baseball, piano, dance, girl guides, Kumon, and theatre camp. 

Neither of my parents discouraged my curiosity in high school and I ended up being the only female in my year to sign up for the tech class available in grade 9. The next three years no tech classes were available at my high school and I found myself excelling in business. I completed all business courses available at my school. I was good at math, enjoyed business enough and had family members that were accountants and therefore applied to university and college for accounting programs. I did not have the marks to get accepted into university, however I was accepted at Humber College for the 3-year accounting program. I started in September 2007, and by December I knew it was not for me. During this time, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Toronto School Board working with special needs children. I discovered a passion for people, growth and change, so I switched focus and applied to the Child and Youth Worker program.

I was accepted into the program at Humber and started my 3-year journey in September 2008 to become a Child and Youth Worker. I loved the program and the experience taught me so much. It gave me an understanding and acceptance of mental health, along with some skills to help the people around me. And more importantly it helped me understand myself, heal and and grow as a individual. Upon graduation I was hired as a CYW to work at Youth Without Shelter: a homeless shelter for youth 16-24 years of age. I worked there for several years in many different positions; housing worker, frontline, chef and program coordinator. This remains one of my favorite jobs because of the growth I was able to see daily in the youth. However, these kinds of organizations often have tight budgets, and every penny is allotted for. Sadly the pay is not enough for one to survive on their own.

It was due to this that I always maintained the job I had throughout college. In 2008, while attending college, I picked up a part time job working at Cash Money. This is a payday loan company which provided an array of financial services and helped support me during school. Over the years this job would develop into more. I moved on to a different company and enjoyed progression in my career. Over the next decade I continued to work my way up through the business, successfully managing their flag ship store, winning awards, and moving into a head office position as Training Coordinator and Auditor.

In 2017, at only 29 years of age, I realized that I did not like my job. I would come home stressed, did not feel a sense of pride about the work I was doing, and had to fight for .50 cent raises that did not reflect the increase in cost of living. I enjoyed a few aspects of my job, like training and teaching, but overall, this was not a job that left me fulfilled or able to pay my bills very comfortably. I realized we spend more time at work than we do at home and I believe it is so important to enjoy what you do. There is no perfect job, however one that makes you feel proud and happy, is a job that feels more like a hobby than a chore. Additional to mental health and happiness is financial security. I found myself going further into debt each year. I needed to find a job where I could thrive, not just survive.

 

It was during this time that my best friend Matt purchased a house and started home renovations. Together we tore apart and rebuilt a kitchen, bathroom and finished a basement that required framing, drywall, mudding, electrical and finishing touches. It was the hours I spent working on this home that ignited my passion for working with my hands. It was the beginning of my new journey.

 

My time spent as a Child and Youth Worker provided me with the knowledge and know how, to find programs and resources available to help women get into the trades. I started researching and found a free government funded pre-apprenticeship program offered though the YWCA Hamilton for Machining and applied. I did not know what a machinist was, but I knew any education and resume building experience would be a benefit. I was accepted into the program in 2018 and successfully completed it along with a 6-month co-op at Arcelor Mittal Dofasco in 2019.

I enjoyed machining, and after my co-op finished, my job and employer sponsorship search began. The next several months I applied for every possible machinist position available, on all job platforms, and removed and changed content on my resume to appear less female and continued to find myself jobless. However, I do understand some of the challenges that machine shops may encounter when hiring a woman. The changes they may have to make to accommodate a woman (such as a washroom) could be costly, particularly for small shops.

 

During my job search the YWCA released the 2019 pre-apprenticeship programs and electrical was a new

one added to the list. Knowing I enjoyed electrical and thinking that there may be more job availability and

security in that field I applied. I was accepted into the program in 2019 and successfully completed it later

that year. These programs arranged for guest speakers and additional training to help ensure our success.

The IBEW Local 105 Hamilton was one of these parties and they sent guest speakers, and facilitated

Lock Out, Tag Out and Working and Heights Training. I was able to network throughout this program and

show my potential to the IBEW. So, when I completed the program I reached out to the local and forwarded

my resume and qualifications in hopes they would take me on.  I am extremely grateful that they signed me

as an electrical apprentice and gave me a chance to be successful.  Since this time, the IBEW has been

nothing but amazing and encouraging, including sponsoring, and attending the YWCA Women of

Distinction awards ceremony in 2019, and so much more.

 

I was placed on my first job site October 2019, a new build hotel, in Burlington Ontario. I consider myself

extremely fortunate to have an amazing team, and company that supports me and my endeavors. I have a

crew that includes me in the process, which allows me to learn and grow as an apprentice.  I have great

foreman, journeyman and apprentices as mentors, brothers, and teachers.

 

I genuinely love my job, and being an Electrical Apprentice keeps my physically, and mentally healthy, all while helping me stay financially secure. I feel challenged, engaged, and proud of the work I do. There is an amazing sense of pride and accomplishment you get when you finish a project and can say; I built that. I now have the confidence to take on different at home projects and repairs. During COVID-19 I have learned how to change my car oil, and now I have done 3 and counting. This has allowed me to save a few bucks while using higher quality oil and filters, than what is typically used at a random shop. I am not afraid to pick up a new tool and try something different, and this has helped increased my self confidence and self-esteem. No two projects are 100% alike in the trades and inevitably I learn something new almost every day I go to work. Because of this I have developed the courage to try new things, fall, stand back up, and repeat until success; confidence is built by competence and this is the formula.

 

Being in the skilled trades means I get paid well, all while getting a healthy day’s exercise. Exercise is so important for both the physical and mental health of humans, and it is a natural benefit of the skilled trades. Being a woman in the skilled trades today means that I am still a minority, underestimated and a trailblazer for other women to follow. It means I must be strong, self-aware, and realistic that I am still in a man’s world. I must be patient and not push change but be an ambassador and advocate for change.

 

One of the big things I have learned from life is you never get a break from the demands of bills and most people live life pay cheque to pay cheque, unprepared for any unexpected added expense.  Due to this I have learnt the importance of loving what you do, along with finding a job that can allow you to thrive not just survive on your own. I picked the skilled trades and electrical because it was a job that I found to love and allowed me to have wants and the potential to retire. It is because of all my experiences that I think it is so important you take time to try different things, research opportunities, get your hands dirty, and explore your passions, while being realistic knowing one day you will have to support yourself on your dreams.