Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc.

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It's Women in Construction Week 2021!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Celebrate accordingly with us--check out our spotlights on inspiring women learning with WECA and its Member Contractors as Apprentices and Electrician Trainees!

Also, read on for coverage of WECA's inaugural (and virtual!) Apprentice Women's Forum meeting

Electrician Trainee Spotlight: Gina White

Whether it’s in the social work field or prospectively on-the-job as an electrician trainee, Gina White is a woman who gets things done.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2018, White started her career as a social worker, but longed to work with her hands. As the daughter of an electrical engineer father who “can fix and build anything”, White thought about going back to college for a mechanical engineering degree but soon discovered that most mechanical engineers end up doing design work behind a computer. Read the rest of Gina's spotlight here.


Apprentice Spotlight: Charlotte Burggraf

WECA Apprentice Charlotte Burggraf has had the best of both worlds—a traditional four-year college degree plus educational and on-the-job experience under her toolbelt with WECA—and says that “the biggest shortcoming of [college] was the complete lack of job experience during it.”

“You spend four-plus years for a piece of paper that, on its own, doesn’t get you a career. Even with a degree in hand, you still need to be able to show you can do the work to get hired by a company. Meanwhile, with WECA, or any apprenticeship program really, you get work experience as you do your classroom training, which sets you up well for a career in the field,” says Burggraf. Read the rest of Charlotte's spotlight here.


Apprentice Spotlight: Laura Varela

WECA Phoenix Commercial Electrical Apprentice Laura Varela, who works for founding Arizona member contractor Corbins Electric, says that “over the years, being a female in construction has become a normal thing. Since joining the trade in 2015, I have personally seen so many women join the trades; there is definitely no divide. We are all a team working together to get one goal done—and that is to finish the job.”

Varela—who first became interested in becoming an electrician while enrolled in her high school’s construction program—says that more women should think about working in the electrical field because “it is not as hard as it may seem. With the advancements in technology, tools that were once manually operated are now battery operated, which means that not as much strength is required anymore.” Read the rest of Laura's spotlight here.


Electrician Trainee Spotlight: Ariana Beltran

Like father, like daughter! WECA Electrician Trainee Ariana Beltran has her father to thank for the career journey she’s currently on.

“My dad is an electrician, and I always wanted to follow in his footsteps,” says Beltran. 

Aside from having that much more in common with her father (shop talk during get-togethers, anyone?), Beltran says that studying to become an electrician—and working in the electrical field—comes with some major perks. Read the rest of Ariana's spotlight here.


Apprentice Spotlight: Liddia Ventura

Liddia Ventura is no stranger to construction, having been around it her whole life. But she found that the electrical trade interested her the most because “There’s always a learning opportunity. Electricity is part of our everyday life and being able to have a working knowledge of it is a great life skill.”

For Ventura, becoming an electrician is also borne out of sentimentality. Her goal is to ultimately operate a solar farm in her mother’s hometown.

In the meantime, though, Ventura is enjoying learning in the classroom with WECA as a Commercial Electrical Apprentice as well as on-the-job with her employing member contractor. Read the rest of Liddia's spotlight here.



Apprentice Spotlight: Jaclyn Surber

If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

That’s the personal philosophy that WECA Commercial Electrical Apprentice—and wrestling Olympic hopeful—Jaclyn Surber ascribes to.
And her love for her chosen profession shines through.

“I love learning a new trade, and my contractor [Helix Electric] has been amazing. WECA has also been amazing—as a female, I’m getting the same training and experiences that my male counterparts are receiving. There is no favoritism; I have to pull my weight like everyone else. I also like the fact that I get to do on-the-job training that is paid,” says Surber. Read the rest of Jaclyn's spotlight here.


But that's not all! WECA also held its inaugural WECA Apprentice Women's Forum on March 10, and it was a great success!

The inaugural event, hosted virtually via Zoom, was attended by women apprentices from WECA's training facilities in California and Arizona, and even included WECA Alumni Journeyperson (and valedictorian of her class!) Demi Zayas, whom we've previously featured in our newsletters and on our social media channels.

Each attendee brought ideas to the forum, which included suggestions on places WECA could expand their recruiting efforts to, forming groups to connect more frequently, and starting a CODE of the day/week contest with each other.

Zayas also shared useful tips on various topics--including the value of finding ways to get tasks/assignments done with techniques that work for each individual attendee--and spoke of continuously pushing herself to be a continuous learner and tackling new assignments with a desire to be the best.

It was a great meeting, and WECA looks forward to our next forum meeting and continuing to connect (and grow) this fantastic group of women with each other!