Women in Trades Series: Orleans Tech’s Building Maintenance program let me follow my heart to a fabulous career.
I guess I was like most people “pushing forty.” I had a steady job in customer service that paid the bills. I liked the work well enough and had no desire to rock the boat at that point in my life. But then, due to illness I found myself out of work and hard pressed once I recovered to get a full-time position. I picked up a few odd jobs, but knew deep inside that something was missing in my life. I wasn’t happy just getting by and doing jobs that offered no personal fulfillment. When my mother passed away a couple of years later, I had an even greater sense of emptiness in my life. I lost my mother. I was in a dead-end job. I was grieving in more ways than one. But, as is my nature, I had to keep plodding ahead, there was work to be done.
It was in the course of doing that “work” that I took my first steps down a path to fulfillment… more fulfillment in life and career than I ever dreamed of! A great deal of repair and renovation needed to be done on my mother’s home. I was always a bit of a tomboy and liked tinkering with home repair and mechanics, so I set to work on her house. And as I did so, I experienced an energy and zest for life I’m not sure I ever felt before. The more I worked on the house, the more I realized how much settling for a customer service job was holding me back from truly being happy. As I continued rehabbing the house, I pushed myself to listen to my heart and seriously consider pursuing a career in some type of building maintenance. I questioned, “Gaynita, you’re 40 years old and have no real experience. Do you really think you can make a viable career with a toolbox?”
Fortunately, I went with my heart! So I set my mind to learning what I needed to do to take the steps. I did some research and decided to enroll in Orleans Technical College’s Building Maintenance training program – one of the most important factors being the hands-on experience Orleans Tech provided, versus the others that were mainly online. I started the the course in February 2015 and graduated proudly that August. My instructor, Mr. Madel even called me the star of the class… imagine that, me, a woman of 40 outperforming even younger guys in building maintenance! I will be forever grateful to Orleans Tech for all the experience, knowledge and skills I’ve gained. Already, these things have added tremendous value to my life personally and professionally. I even conquered my fear of electricity!
A few months before I graduated, Orleans Tech set me up to interview with several potential employers. At the same time, I was also interviewed by a local newspaper. Feeling very confident at this stage of my education and training, I told the reporter, “I hope to settle into employment with a small business or apartment complex.” And now, well? It’s a self-fulfilled prophecy! Only a few months after graduating, I spent my first day on the job at The Summit at University City as Maintenance Technician. It’s everything I ever dreamed of and more. I love my job. I love that I get to help people and I truly feel the possibilities are endless. I AM fulfilled in my life.
By Gaynita Reynolds, Orleans Tech Graduate, Class of 2015
(July 12, 2016)