Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Video: Hear from women currently in our program as well as successful grads
Women in Construction Week 2023 Spotlights
Laura Martinez, Commercial Electrical Apprentice
“Being an electrician has impacted my life greatly,” says Laura Martinez, a fifth year, second semester Commercial Electrical Apprentice. “I make more money than any other job I have held in the past; I feel very independent; my self-esteem is better than ever; my loved ones feel very proud of me, and my daughters see me as a role model.”
Before joining WECA, Laura was a single mom who struggled a lot because she didn’t make enough money to make ends meet. Since she had an interest in the wiring process and wanted to work with her hands, Laura extensively researched various trades before deciding to become an electrician.
Laura initially applied to many different programs and passed the testing and interview processes with those programs but kept getting turned away due to her lack of work experience in the trades. After two years of waiting for an opportunity, she cried with joy and happiness when she was accepted into WECA’s Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship Program.
“WECA is an amazing program where I feel taken care of,” says Laura. “WECA and my employers (Laura is currently with Helix Electric) have helped me succeed. Every semester I learn a lot of material that I then apply to the field, and I love that the program offers on-the-job training in addition to classroom instruction. The courses help me perform well in the field, and my employers make sure that I work in all stages of the process so that I can become a well-rounded electrician.”
Laura says that more women are needed in not only the electrical industry, but the trades as a whole.
“Sadly, as a society, we believe that certain jobs can only be performed by men. Before becoming an electrician, I didn’t believe in myself like I do now, and I know there are a lot of women hungry to succeed in life but doubting themselves.”
According to Laura, working as an electrician is dynamic, intellectually stimulating, and personally rewarding.
“The electrical trade is one where one never stops learning,” says Laura. “No one day is the same as the other because there are always challenges, lots of critical thinking, and solutions to be found. I also enjoy that I can bring out different skills at different stages. For example, I didn’t know that I was strong enough to dig the whole day during the underground stage, and it’s interesting to find pathways for piping and wiring during this stage.”
Additionally, Laura says there’s numerous advantages to apprenticing with WECA’s apprenticeship programs versus pursuing a traditional two or four-year college education.
“The advantages of my apprenticeship with WECA are that I don’t have to pay out of pocket for my education, there are college credits [through the National College Credit Recommendation Service] if I decide to continue my education after WECA, the health coverage, and the fact that I can take two weeks off [of on-the-job training to complete the daytime in-classroom portion of the apprenticeship program] without sacrificing time with my family. Plus, with WECA’s apprenticeship, there’s the advantage of getting an education while working and getting hands-on experience,” says Laura.
Laura, we’re glad to have a driven achiever like yourself as part of the WECA family! It’s our pleasure to help you craft a marketable and lucrative electrical career and propel you into the future echelon of premier women electricians in California!
Brooke Owens, Electrician Trainee
Sometimes, our true callings are found in unexpected moments. That was the case for Electrician Trainee Brooke Owens, whose interest in becoming an electrician began when she and her grandpa built a tree fort during her childhood.
“The electrical part struck a strong passion for electricity,” says Brooke.
As an adult, that passion for electricity has intensified and shaped her life in many ways.
“Being an electrician has completely changed my life. When you wake up and enjoy what you’re doing, it isn’t work, but a passion,” Brooke expounds. “Being an electrician has taught me so much – like how to be a great leader, teacher, and mentor. The best part of being an electrician is starting a job and seeing it through all the processes from beginning to end. We [electricians] get to say, I built that building and gave it light. I also love the flow state – that’s where the magic happens.”
As a woman electrician, Brooke says that “It’s awesome being a woman in a male-dominated industry because as women, we hold our own and have strong willpower. I enjoy being underestimated. More women should become electricians because we should prove that this industry isn’t just a man’s job. It’s our time to shine and hold it down. It’s truly empowering to see another woman on the job, so you are not alone.”
Brooke's passion for her chosen profession is inspiring, and WECA is proud to play a part in her success.
“WECA has been so helpful for learning and getting ready for the journeyperson test. The instructors are so inspiring and helpful. It makes it easier when you and your instructor share the same passion for the trade and want to learn and grow,” says Brooke. “The advantages I have with WECA’s Electrician Trainee Program for me is definitely the classes, and the hands-on labs are great. You get great knowledge from the classes and experience in the labs. It’s a win-win experience. The great perks of the program versus a regular college education is that you get to do school after you learn hands-on stuff on the jobsite, learning as you go. Without WECA and Bergelectric [my employer], I wouldn’t be growing into this successful electrician that I’m becoming.”
In closing, Brooke says “Thank you for this opportunity to share my experience with WECA and readers. It’s truly an honor to be part of this empowering movement. I’d like to congratulate all the women in the trade and those who are part of WECA. Girl power all the way!”
Victoria Carrillo, Electrician Trainee
For WECA Electrician Trainee Victoria Carrillo, her family strongly influenced her decision to become an electrician and her perspective on the electrical industry.
“My dad is an electrician, and my maternal grandfather was an electrician,” says Victoria. “They inspired my interest in the electrical field, and to be hard-working. Being an electrician has changed my life so much by helping me learn to be stronger, have more patience and overall determination, and has helped me become a better mom, friend, and example for all my siblings.”
Before enrolling in WECA’s Electrician Trainee Program, Victoria tried to become an electrician through a traditional college education, but found it difficult to succeed in that environment as a mom and full-time apprentice.
“As a mom, the ability to have class online [through WECA’s Electrician Trainee Program] is a huge advantage for me, and the late class times offered are exactly what I need to be able to manage work and school at the same time. The program offers self-paced classes twice a week with occasional hands-on labs on Saturdays and has incredible instructors who have worked in the field themselves who understand what they teach through experience. The instructors make it very easy to ask questions and learn without feeling rushed or embarrassed. And, I’ve run into wiring problems or conduit fill issues [on-the-job] that I would not have known what to do about without my knowledge from my WECA instructors. The program is so convenient and makes going to school a lot less stressful in comparison to other options I tried,” says Victoria.
As a woman electrician, Victoria says that she quickly learned that in the electrical industry, your gender doesn’t matter – but your determination to work hard does.
“Women are strong, smart, and have a strong nature within themselves to get things done,” says Victoria. “The electrical field would benefit from more women because of that. There are so many women out there with a talent for wiring and construction that don’t even know it yet.”
Great sentiments, Victoria! We’re happy to hear that WECA’s Electrician Trainee Program helps you pursue your electrical industry education and career while maintaining your family responsibilities, and hope that your insight inspires more women to join the growing ranks of premier women electricians in California!
WECA's Outreach Team Held Special, Woman-Focused Events for WIC Week 2023
WECA hosted a Women in Construction Week 2023 Outreach Event on Monday, March 6 at our California headquarters in Rancho Cordova.
We were pleased to have a sizable number of women come to learn more about WECA and our Apprenticeship and Electrician Trainee programs.
During the event, Workforce Development Supervisor Diane Trotter and Assistant Director of Apprenticeship Wendy Flanagan gave attendees a tour of classrooms and labs in session, informed attendees about WECA's Apprenticeship and Electrician Trainee program options through a live presentation, shared informative videos, and hosted a riveting Q&A session.
They also held an online forum and get-together for women already enrolled in WECA's apprenticeship and electrician trainee certificate programs, and were gratified to hear positive feedback regarding the quality of WECA's electrical training programs.
"The level of education I get from WECA is so much better than what I got elsewhere," one attendee shared. "I feel like my instructor really cares about what they are teaching, how it is delivered, and about me as a student. I wanted to pass it along, so you can share with your team. Thank you for being amazing!"
Thank you for coming, everyone! We had a blast celebrating Women in Construction Week 2023 with you and are honored to have you as part of the current and future female electrical workforce!
WECA staff got into the spirit of Women in Construction Week 2023! Pictured are staff at our California HQ in Rancho Cordova (first two pictures) and Rex Hime, the Regional Relationship Manager for Fresno (last picture) at our Fresno training facility. Thank you for helping us celebrate women in construction, everyone!
Want to join the growing cohort of women in the electrical industry who help power their communities?
Learn more about and apply for WECA's apprenticeship programs in California, Arizona, and Utah here!
Learn more about and enroll in WECA's Electrician Trainee program here!