Dana Rousseau

Third Year Carpenter

July 2017

Dana Rousseau

I found out about the Trade Winds to Success pre-apprenticeship training program in early 2017 when I was considering changing careers and learning a trade. I was interested in carpentry but didn’t have any formal training, and I came across Trade Winds while searching online for pre-apprenticeship training offered in Edmonton. I was motivated to pursue this opportunity because I knew it would give me a chance to see if I liked carpentry enough to pursue a career in it.

I’m Métis, and received support from the Métis Nation of Alberta to take this program. I had been working in road construction for several years and applied to the Trade Winds program during my off-season.

From the Trade Winds program, I expected to learn some hands-on basic carpentry skills and how to operate power saws and common hand tools. I also expected the program would help me prepare for an apprenticeship in carpentry and learn more in general about the carpentry field and how apprenticeships work in Alberta. What was most rewarding to me was getting a chance to practice some carpentry hands-on, as this helped me decide to continue in the trade and pursue a career in carpentry.

My biggest challenge was probably preparing for the apprenticeship entrance exam, as it required me to learn a fair amount of theory in a short amount of time in order to perform well on the test. I got support through the Trade Winds program to succeed, which helped me pass the exam.

If I had to do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat. As someone who was contemplating a major career change, it was important to assess whether I was making the right decision before starting an apprenticeship, and doing a pre-apprenticeship through Trade Winds gave me some assurance that I was taking the right path.

Beyond helping me decide to pursue carpentry, it also helped me get my foot in the door when it came to securing an apprenticeship. Because I had completed the pre-apprenticeship program, employers knew that I had a little training under my belt and was serious about learning the trade. I was able to find an employer willing to take a chance on me not long after completing the program. I’m now a third-year carpenter apprentice, and the Trade Winds program helped me get to where I am today.

This experience was a stepping stone that helped me make a major career change. As a carpenter apprentice, I continue to learn new things each day and I love that there is so much variety in the trade. My experience has impacted my family and those around me because it has opened up new opportunities for me and helped me to take a new direction in my own life. With the skills and experience I’m gaining, I hope one day to open my own business and be able to give back to my community.

I would definitely encourage others to apply for this program, as it is truly a great opportunity for those who think they might want to pursue a trade and don’t know where to start. If you’re thinking of trying out carpentry or another trade, just go for it! I’m thankful that I have had the opportunity to pursue a career in carpentry with the help of Trade Winds, and would definitely recommend this program to others. It’s never too late to try something new. I took a risk changing direction mid-career and I have no regrets!