Student Talk

I feel like I let people down today in a Student Talk I gave. And I struggle with having let someone down. Especially on a topic I feel passionate about.

A class of students came to the Mine where I work and toured through the Weld Shop.

My foreman asked a few days ago if I would be interested in talking to this group of High School students. I am not a great speaker. But because I know I need to do things I am ‘scared’ of, I knew I had to say ‘Yes’ to this.

If you have followed me for a while, you will know this is kinda a theme for me…

Because my short little talk did not come out anything like I planned, I want to share it here. I might reach just one more person and find closure in doing better something I feel I really sucked at.

After talking to my foreman and giving it some thought, I wrote down a page of notes.

Student Talk notes

It’s the back page of what I think was the Electricians daily communication book. Sorry guys. I can’t hold the important points in my head and I knew where there was a blank sheet of paper.

The Brief: Talk a bit about school pathways, why/how you got into welding and why you like it.
Easy right?

The Student Talk I meant to give was relaxed easy, relatable and pretty importantly, audible. I don’t think I met any of those goals. UGH! yuck. Yup this is why public speaking is #1 on the Washington Posts survey of America’s Top Fears.

The Student Talk I wanted to give:

Okay, picture me oozing confidence, easily heard above the usual shop noise and so f-ing inspiring that each student who thought they might be interested in welding went straight to the nearest computer to enroll.

School Pathways

There are a few schooling pathways to become a Welder. (Here in BC, Canada anyways) There are options to look into. If you want it, there is a way.

As I understand the confusing and changing schooling model for welders:

It’s like a tree, with a couple different branches or pathways a person can take. The traditional Apprenticeship route or the Modular route with variations and requirements for each.

After 2 phone conversations with very helpful and patient ITA representatives the system has changed since I went through certification and they really are the best people to talk to about your specific situation/questions.

ITA – Industry Training and Authority – Welder Apprenticeship Pathways

A point that I think is really important to note is that hours worked in the trade before enrolling or being sponsored can count towards certification. A sponsor (a Company or a Journeyman) worked for must be willing to sign for and back date those hours.

Why welding?

Well, my dad is a Red Seal Master Mechanic and was the first person to teach me to Oxy/Acetylene weld. Badly, but it was a start. It planted that little idea I would come back to later on.

Honestly, like my About page reads, it was the most ‘bad ass’ thing I could think of doing.

I had a University Visual Arts Degree but still needed a job.

I signed myself up for welding because I know it would be something I regretted not doing. Regretting not doing something when I’m 80 because I was too scared to try is way more scary than just trying the scary thing.

There is nothing wrong with desk jobs, I don’t want to be misunderstood here, I just know they are not for me.

I saw that there was still room for creativity in welding. I really break this down in my post Why Artists make Awesome Welders. Have a read.

Why I love Welding?

  • Accomplishment – The feeling @ the end of each hard worked day.
  • Empowerment – I love running a truck and feeling whatever comes up “I’ve got this”
  • Camaraderie – Getting to know your crew really well and working from those strengths and relationships.
  • Exercise – I have never been in better shape than when I was welding for an Ironworking/Erecting company. Wearing all the fall restraint gear plus bolts and lugging welding cables up several stories there is no need for a gym or personal trainer when you have a boss that simply says “go.”
  • Equality – Nobody is more able that anybody else. Let me say that again. Nobody is more able than anybody else. We all have strengths and especially in welding where there are UT, X-ray, and bend tests putting everybody on the same level – skill speaks for itself.
  • Diversity – There are SO many areas to specialize in. I really wanted to point this out to students coming from a small town dominated by Milling and Mining industries.
  • Small business potential – Running a truck or welding rig is really a small business. So even if you’r just too scared to sign up for welding now, take that Accounting course or whatever, you won’t regret it.

Final Takeaway:

If I can leave you with anything it has to be make sure to follow those ‘gut feelings’. Those little nudges, ‘I think that would be cool to try!’ (Who said that?)

We get gut feelings for a reason and it’s all worth exploring. Like the Accounting or First Aid course you took because you just wern’t ready to weld yet, I use aspects of my Visual Arts degree every day!

We get these little nudges for a reason and it takes massive courage to follow them. But the regret of not trying something might be worse than the thing!

Stay Awesome,


2 Replies to “Student Talk”

  1. Veronika McIntyre says: Reply

    I read this post a really long time ago, and thought about it afterwards, but then kept forgetting to comment, and somehow thought about it today, so here’s my thoughts… just because you thought you failed, doesn’t mean you did. I find that often it’s people’s vulnerabilities that inspire more than their strengths! For example, maybe there was a shy girl in the crowd, and if you had been the all confident you that you wanted to be, she may have thought this could never be for her, but because she could identify with you, she decided to give welding a try… this is completely theoretical of course, I’m just saying don’t beat yourself up, you never know who you inspired just by being the authentic you, strengths, weaknesses, and all!

    1. Goodness! V you are amazing, and yes, that is exactly my best hope.

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