Shekinah Francis, WORKNOW Member and Sheetmetal Apprentice


My name is Shekinah Francis, I am a first
year apprentice, sheet metal at Trautman and Shreve. Union number nine.
I like the apprenticeship because unlike normal school, which I have been
down that road, I don’t have to pay for my training. And what I learn I get paid
to learn. Like as a first year, we do have separate schools, which is usually at
night after work but it’s not that long. But at the same time I’m still gaining
knowledge and understanding of my job while I’m actually on the job. Learning
on the job gives you what I call real-world experience that most schools
don’t give you. I love the fact that going to school and working is all real world
experience and it all counts the same. Where as if you go to school, if you go
to school you get your degree you go back to try to get a job they’re like ‘oh
well school experience doesn’t count’ here it does a thousand percent. Compared
to my last job where I got paid monthly it’s really hard to make a monthly
stretch, so I really do enjoy the fact that I get paid weekly now, because the
pay is pretty high you don’t really have to worry too much about trying to save
or split checks that much. You have the ability to pay bills and
buy yourself nice things pretty much all at the same time without having to worry
about how am I gonna make it to next week or how am I gonna afford this. It
makes saving money seem a lot easier and more possible. The possibility of saving
money because you get paid weekly and the checks are pretty decent. It makes it
easier to see oh I can save up for this, I can save up to that for that. I can
afford to put away $100 $200 a paycheck and not touch it
if I want to or not. You have those moments where it’s like I’m gonna buy
whatever I want, why? Because for the first time in a long time I could afford
to. But if I want to go out and get it I can get it and only have to wait till Friday
to pay whatever bills I need to pay and I don’t have to worry about paycheck to
paycheck. I love not being stuck in survival mode all the time. The work I’m
doing now is going to help me in the future because I’m trying to go to
underwater welding. Where this is starting off at sheet metal so just beating it up
together eventually it will turn into welding and different opportunities or
not actually make stuff or stuff by hand. Even if I didn’t want to go into
underwater welding by the end of this apprenticeship I’d have enough knowledge
if I wanted to I could start my own business. Personally I enjoy working with
my hands I’ve always been a very hands-on person I enjoyed looking
at my work and seeing what I’ve done. So for me this is over the moon.
Once it’s actually done people can drive by you can say. I helped build that. You know,
it’s living proof of something you’ve actually done which a lot of jobs don’t
give you. I do love that aspect that at the end of the day I have something I
can look at and say I did that. There are a lot more people willing
to help out here in this type of labor-intensive industry than you think
and you don’t have to be one of the guys, you don’t have to be butch, you don’t
have to be manly, you don’t have to be overly strong. Be you there’s nothing
wrong with being feminine, being female, and I mean you have to show up for the
job, you do have to put out some work so if you’re not ready to work then don’t
do it but if you’re ready to work you want to see some stuff going out and
want to see your accomplishments outside as people drive by, get out and do it
there’s nothing wrong with it and we need more females. Ya know, show these
guys they don’t run the world

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