Taking Charge: How Ambassador Apprentices Are Stepping Up to Tell Their Story
Lisa Marx, of LU 70, never really got too much exposure to the trades during her early years as a young adult. Young women in her area were usually steered toward pink-collar jobs, so after high school, she found herself working in retail. It became commonplace for Lisa to work two or even three jobs at a time and donate plasma in order to support herself and her two boys. Then, after the economic crash, after scrounging to make ends meet, she went bankrupt and lost everything.
After reaching a breaking point, due to the stress, she had a meltdown. “I was crying on my back porch and my neighbor came out to see how I was doing.” Knowing Lisa was in need of work she told her about a couple who were looking for extra hands to help get their boat ready to go to Alaska. Lisa found she loved the hard work, and stuck with it, eventually being offered a job as a deckhand (equally hard work and just as satisfying) by the Captain. She admitted to grappling with a lack of confidence – she was an older woman and doubted her skills and value, yet she had kept pace and found joy in the hard work she did.
After returning home, Lisa’s confidence had changed. She figured if she could be a deckhand she could go get one of the good paying jobs at the refinery. She had friends who were union carpenters and they told her about additional opportunities available through joining. Lisa signed up right away and was accepted into the scaffold apprenticeship.
That was back in 2011. Since then, Lisa has gone on to accomplish amazing things within the union: including founding the North Puget Sound Sisters in the Brotherhood and finding a job as the Apprentice Outreach and Retention Specialist for NWCI. She keeps busy, running Kids Build within the schools and sitting as a trustee and delegate. This can mean she’s spread pretty thin when it comes to covering job fairs and other events–that’s when she came up with the idea of an Ambassador program for the Apprentices to tell their story and get involved.
Apprentices can volunteer for outreach events for different groups such as schools, correctional facilities, veteran groups, and other organizations. They’re trained on the basics of how to set up booths and how to walk people through the application process, and they also have the opportunity to tell people who they are and what their story is.
People come into the trades for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s directly from high school, but then it’s not unusual to hear of people changing careers due to a poor job market. Others realize what they went to school for isn’t in demand or simply not what they want to do anymore. And some, simply want a change of pace. Hearing these stories, of where apprentices come from and the lives they lived is a step in helping others realize that they took can find a sustainable career in the trades.
“With the need for diversity and inclusion continuing to grow in the Pacific Northwest areas, they’re the example to truly show that everyone can join the trades. It’s important to be able to see yourself in that role and our Ambassadors really help cement the idea as a reality they themselves could reach.”