Tia Vonil, 5th Year Electrical Apprentice

November 21, 2016

Soon after I began college, I realized that the "traditional" path of university education was not for me – I desired a more independent, hands-on education where I could achieve tangible, practical results rather than a theoretical degree in a major that would leave me few post-graduate job options and a mountain of debt.

After living abroad for nearly 10 years, I returned to the United States with the dream of a career in the electrical field. I was excited to begin the interview and testing, but, being brand new to everything, I knew little about the intricacies of the electrical trade.

Walking in my neighborhood in northeast Portland, I serendipitously stumbled upon an organization called Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. I signed up for Oregon Tradeswomen's Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class. During the class, I learned skills that prepared me for a successful apprenticeship. It was at Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. where I was first introduced to and captivated by green building concepts such as alternative materials, the importance of conservation and reuse, storm water management, deconstruction vs. demolition, green and solar roofing, and brownfields.

Programs at Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. that benefit from federal grants are crucial to the success of women in the trades. The work of this organization helps diversify the construction workforce, provide alternate perspectives, and encourages green building technologies and employment opportunities.

I am proud to now sit on the board of Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. and work to help women excel in the trades the way they supported and helped me get to where I am today.

As a member of the Local 48 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, I earn while I learn, and the training is paid for by the union. I get experiential as well as classroom education, where I can apply my knowledge in real situations. It is an exciting, dynamic, active, and rewarding job where the sites and tasks are ever changing.

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