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Apprenticeship welder Mila Puharich

Apprenticeship welder Mila Puharich.

May 17, 2011

When apprenticeship welder Mila Puharich talks about her trade, she draws you deep into the physicality of her work, using language that stimulates the senses with vivid descriptions. As she speaks, you can actually hear the snap of the flint and the roar of the cutting torch; feel the heat of the flame and the gut-pounding vibration of metal against anvil; smell the acrid stench of an electric arc to metal. More than anything though, you get the sense that welding is as much a calling for Puharich as it is a career choice.

"I love physicality and being able to touch what I do," says Puharich. "I did fabricating, welding and mechanics as a student at Vic High, then spent a year with Katimavik." When she returned, Puharich made enquiries at Camosun and re-established her desire to do welding.

Women in Trades Training Initiative eases financial stress

Puharich qualified for direct entry to the 7-month Foundations welding program, but she was concerned about finances. "After seven hours a day in the shop and in class, there isn't time or energy left for part-time work."

When she received a call from Camosun to tell her about the Women in Trades Training Initiative (WTTI), she signed up right away. "WTTI covered the cost of my tuition and tools, and really eased the financial stress for me."

The Industry Trade Authority-sponsored WTTI program helps unemployed or underemployed women get the support they need to become skilled, in-demand tradespeople. "I really appreciate how supportive WTTI is. They understand the real constraints women face when considering a trades career. Support can really make a difference when deciding to go to school."

It's fun to figure things out

Puharich is about to begin an apprenticeship with Victoria Shipyards. "I'm a bit nervous, but I'm really glad to learn on the job and to be open to whatever they have to teach me," she says. "There's always something new to learn, and it's great to come back to Camosun to practise my skills and upgrade my certifications."

Although the physical side of trades appeals to Puharich, she also loves the intellectual and spatial challenges inherent to fabricating with metal. "It's so much fun to be completely confused, then figure things out." In five years, Puharich hopes to still be working at the Shipyard. "I want to see all there is to see."

Words of wisdom

"If you are inclined to build stuff using your hands along with your head, then have the courage to do something cool. There's never a better feeling than being able to fit in your own skin."

Learn more about trades training at Camosun

The second-largest provider of trades training in BC, Camosun College offers many different types of trades programs that appeal to students with many different interests and talents. For more information on how to move into trades...

Contact Karen in the trades office:250–370–4030, and visit a program infosession

Last updated: May 18, 2011 9:56 am

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