Marissa McTavish thought she’d be a teacher when she grew up, so she’s as surprised as anyone that she ended up in trades.
“It wasn’t exactly a natural fit,” she said. “I was a feminine girl. I never learned how to fix things from my dad growing up.”
But as a single mother with four kids under the age of 19, she needed to do whatever it took to support her family. When it was time for her to find a career that fit with their schedule and budget, she chose to become an electrician.
“The fact that you don’t need to take out a student loan was honestly what made the decision for me,” Marissa said, referring to trade students getting a paycheque while they learn and work as apprentices.
After working at Rona for five years, she began asking a variety of trades people who stopped by the store what field would suit her best.
“They recommended electrical or plumbing,” she said. “I needed residential work because I can’t go to work in camps with my kids at home. And carpenters need to put up heavy walls and stuff like that.”
Marissa, who is physically quite small, chose electrical, figuring it required the least heavy lifting.
To get into CNC’s Electrical Foundation-level program, she started taking an extra half hour for her work lunch, to study and upgrade her physics. She and her son, who was in high school at the time, were studying physics at the same time and would compare notes.
Soon after, she was accepted into the program.
“I’m so very glad I did my foundation course,” she said. “It gave me a lot of confidence when I was starting out. It lets you try a little bit of everything. Now, there’s no tools on the job site that I haven’t seen before in school.”
Marissa had praise for CNC’s electrical instructors who taught the material in a way that made it easy to understand and apply.
"They were really great,” she said. “They gave us the confidence to network and go out and get our jobs.”
Marissa is now flourishing, working full time as an apprentice at Primus Electric Inc. in Prince George.
“I’m really loving it. I’m always learning new things because there’s always new things to learn,” she said. “Now I can say I wired that house, I finished that shop. Even my kids, when we’re driving around town, will ask me if I’ve worked on any of the houses they see.”
Marissa is the 1000th recipient of the LNG Canada Trades Training Fund, which is administered through the BC Construction Association.
Having already completed her Foundation course, and Electrical Levels 1 & 2, she returned to CNC in March 2019 to complete her Level 3. The award, a great example of CNC and industry working together to support students, will pay for her tuition and books.
Going forward, Marissa hopes to continue to learn as much as possible about electrical, especially solar.
“I’m a bit of hippy,” she said. “Anything we can do greener, I want to do it.”