“Hey girl, do you want to weld?” was the question asked to 13-year-old Savannah at her home with her father one summer day. Savannah jumped at the chance to learn something new. What she didn’t expect was that this small question started her passion for welding and a journey of her own in the skilled trades.
We sat down with Savannah to learn about her experience so far as a Sheet Metal Pre-Apprentice at Bassett Mechanical.
Q: Who is “Savannah”?
A: I am 19 years old. I grew up in Lena and went to Lena High School. I took engineering and shop classes throughout high school (of which I was primarily the only girl in class). I am passionate about art and music and I love to paint. I love being outside, hiking, biking, swimming. I love to travel and read. I especially love my puppy, Cleo.
Q: What is your current role at Bassett Mechanical?
A: I started with Bassett Mechanical as a pre-apprentice in February. In my role, I do a variety of different things including grinding and polishing welds, shipping, passivating stainless steel, pressure washing, and many more tasks. It’s always changing and always different which makes it interesting.
Q: What do you like best about this role?
A: I love to learn. What’s really cool is that I am learning how to make things by myself. This is an in-demand trade that won’t go away. We can automate a lot of things, but a skilled welder is an art. I take pride in learning how to do new things and challenge myself to grow my own skillset.
Q: What do you hope to do or achieve in the future?
There were boys in high school that would say “girls can’t weld”, and I want to prove that there is no better or worse- we are all the same.
A: My ultimate goal is to become a welder. But I am also very interested in artistic welding. Surprisingly, I find that painting is very similar in skill, creativity, and movement to welding which is probably part of why I love it.
Q: How do you feel this job is helping you prepare for your career in the future?
A: I’m learning all of the tricks of the trade but most importantly I’m learning how to do everything in the safe and correct way. The pre-apprenticeship program is really beneficial because you are given the time and resources to learn one-on-one. There is a lot of support here to do things safely and accurately and everyone looks out for each other. It’s not uncommon to hear someone say “hold on…let’s find a better way to do that”. It’s nice to know we have each other’s backs and that is a mindset I can carry with me throughout my career.
Q: What triggered your interest in this career path?
A: My dad used to work for Bassett Mechanical. One summer at home he asked me if I wanted to weld. He showed me how to do it and let me try it; beginning my career! I liked it right away. My dad has always been really supportive of me and he always helped influence my desire to be creative. He would support me in anything, but I’m sure he was excited when I decided I wanted to weld. In fact, I think if we look hard enough he may still have my “first weld” hidden away somewhere.
Q: What are some things you find unique about this industry?
A: It is a lot more physically demanding than many other jobs. If you have the drive to do it, the strength will come and the people here are more than willing to help you. But even though it’s a more physical job, it’s a relaxed environment. I feel like I can be myself and people accept me for who I am. We can work hard and still have fun. Bassett has a variety of personalities and characters here with a great sense of humor. Even though this is a male-dominated field, everyone treats you like an equal.
Q: What inspires you?
A: There is a lot of pressure at this age to “succeed” or find a successful career path. There were boys in high school that would say “girls can’t weld”, and I want to prove that there is no better or worse- we are all the same. I have always had the drive to prove people wrong.
Q: What would you say to other young women who might be considering a career in welding or the skilled trades?
A: Don’t be scared. In a male-dominated industry, you might feel nervous about how you or your skills will be perceived, but everyone is very nice, friendly, and polite. I know it can be intimating at first, but once you get to know everyone you’ll realize we’re all here to grow our skills and do a good job. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it because “you’re a girl” and don’t let anyone hold you back. If you like it… do it! You don’t have to have all the abilities right away in order to apply. What’s great about the pre-apprenticeship opportunity is that they are paying you to try it out! They will work with you to help you learn. The pay is good and you can do something that you really enjoy. You really CAN do it.
Hey, do you want to weld? Learn more about Bassett Mechanical’s apprenticeships and other career opportunities at www.bassettcareers.com.