Maria, a recent Construction 101 graduate, is an avid backpacker, having hiked the Long Trail and much of the Appalachian Trail. Her interest in outdoor building is no surprise and developed during with her first job, working trail crew with Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. Subsequent job experiences (in kitchens, offices, and schools) only firmed her resolve to investigate the building trades, particularly carpentry work.
The following tells the story, in her words, of her journey to ReSOURCE’s Construction 101 program.
Q: When did you join Construction 101? What was your life like at the time?
A: I took Construction 101 in the late fall of 2018. I had left my job working at a preschool in August and gone to hike the Long Trail, which I’d always wanted to do and never found the right time. I didn’t have a job at the time and knew I wanted to get into the trades in some way, but wasn’t sure what that would look like. I went to Vermont Works for Women to get some career advice, and they told me about the course at ReSOURCE, which was starting the next week! It all worked perfectly.
Q: What was your experience with Construction 101 like? Are there any moments that stand out to you?
A: I had a great experience with the course. It was a small group which was nice because we were really able to focus on the things that people wanted to be learning. The instructor did a good job of balancing classroom-type work with lots of hands-on experience. The tool training and the build projects were definitely the highlights. I was able to use just about everything in the shop and gain a lot of confidence with all the tools, which was the most beneficial thing for me.
Having access to the joinery and being able to work on side projects was a huge bonus. I made tables, a bench, picture frames and other things. Having the resources to practice all the skills I was learning and to have a lot of repetition with the power tools was so critical.
Q: What has life been like since you left ReSOURCE? Is there any lesson/skill you learned that you’re still using today?
A: Right now I am working with Skada Builders, which is a local design/build company. I have been with them since the spring. We work on residential renovations, additions, and new builds. It has been an incredible opportunity to work on fun and challenging projects with a great crew of people. I bring skills that I learned in Construction 101 to the jobsite every day. Things as simple as the way I read my measuring tape and mark out boards. Or how I operate the saws safely. I have no doubt that having that foundation has been a huge help in the work I am doing now. The biggest element is that I gained the confidence needed to get my foot in the door.
Q: What would you say to someone considering enrolling in Construction 101?
A: The course is a great opportunity to learn new skills and get a background in the trades in general. We not only did carpentry, but worked on an electrical project and learned a bit about plumbing and mechanical. Being able to learn in the shop is great because you don’t have the pressure and time constraints of the job site. I still continue to learn everyday on the job, but it would have been a lot harder without the background that Construction 101 gave me.