Q+A with Carpentry Apprentice Jelissa De Torres

I am proud of the confidence and love that I have gained for myself since the beginning of my carpentry adventure.

Meet Jelissa De Torres, a level 2 carpenter apprentice who has found self-confidence through a career in the skilled trades.

Where do you currently work and what is your position?
Apprentice Carpenter at Caisley Developments

How did you first hear about the skilled trades and what inspired you to pursue it as a career?
It's been something I've always admired from afar. I would see women working in the trades and I was always left in awe but never thought that I could ever be capable of doing the same. Two years ago I was going through a really tough time; feeling restless, lost, and yearning for a change. I saw a post online advertising a program run by the Open Door Group for Women in the Trades: Intro to Carpentry. I had spent the week before watching YouTube videos on carpentry and thinking that maybe I could teach myself something new. So, seeing this post, I immediately felt like this was confirmation that this just might be my next adventure. I spent days working up the courage to send an application in. Anxiety and self-doubt really took over. But I pushed past those feelings and I'm so glad I did. The instructor Kyle Kozak, who is now an ITA Apprenticeship Advisor, was SO wonderful. I am forever grateful for his patience and knowledge. I built a lot of confidence in myself in those 8 weeks and I can absolutely attribute it to the patience and encouragement he showed our group.

Describe what you love most about the skilled trades? 
I love the community I've become a part of. I've met so many hardworking, inspirational individuals who express a lot of passion and pride in what they do. Their energy is truly infectious, and it helps keep me motivated and eager to learn.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy creating art using all types of mediums. Lately, however, I've been spending a lot of time gardening.

What are you most proud of?
I am proud of the confidence and love that I have gained for myself since the beginning of my carpentry adventure. I struggled a lot with those things before I entered the apprenticeship program. I knew that I would gain all these technical skills and become physically stronger, but I never thought that, with that, I would learn a lot about myself and start to believe in my own potential. All those years I spent looking in awe at women in the trades, thinking that I was not brave or capable enough; and here I am today, cheering myself on.

What advice would you give to people who are considering joining the skilled trades? 
Entering the skilled trades doesn't just provide a new skill or a well-paying career. You also gain community, friendship, AND opportunities for self-growth. I admit that it was incredibly intimidating for me to pursue this career. But those few moments of fear gave me opportunities to be brave. I was able to grow in so many ways. Today, I truly wish that more people allowed themselves the same opportunity; to be brave and to grow.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I'm hoping to open up a summer camp for young girls (and those who identify as female), where they can learn handyperson skills in a safe and supportive environment. I would love to have female mentors, in a variety of trades, share and teach their knowledge to these girls while also providing an environment that fosters confidence and friendship. My intention is to also teach these girls interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills that they can take with them in their future careers.

Want to start your career as a carpenter?

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