Painting Pathways: Fix Network, CAREERS inspire young women with Trades and Technologies Day

Calgary, Alberta — Fix Network and its Calgary, Alta. Training Centre partnered with Alberta-based CAREERS last weekend to host a Young Women in Trades and Technologies Day, where seven high school students with no prior autobody experience learned about opportunities in the trade. 

Students learned about painting gear and suits; prepped panels, applied tack and spray sealer/base coat; airbrushed with stencils and applied clear coat during a panel painting project. 

Led by Jeff Francis, Fix Network’s technical trainer for Western Canada, the event also featured presentations from successful women in autobody, including Lauren Reynolds, regional performance director for Western Canada, Fix Network; Crystin Bulai, regional operations manager for Luxuria Auto, a Fix Auto MSO; and Cecile Bukmeier, chair of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Autobody Program.

Bukmeier delivered a message to quell any fears the students may have about “screwing up” while learning autobody repair processes.

“The first time I was given the opportunity to work on a car, I totally screwed it up. But my boss said, ‘This is where you’re starting. It’s only uphill from here.’ 

“I’m really thankful someone gave me that shot.” 

Bulai explained her journey from customer service rep to her current role as operations manager overseeing six facilities. 

“Surround yourself with people that see something in you and that will lift you up, answer your questions and take you to that next level that you want to go to. As CSR wasn’t fulfilling for me anymore, I said, ‘I want to take on that task now, and I want to do that one, and that one and that one…’ and I worked my way up.” 

The students all seemed impressed by the complexity and variety of opportunities available as an autobody technician or refinisher.

“I didn’t really think the trades and technology were interesting,” admitted 14-year-old Olivia Gagnon. “But today they mentioned the aspect of painting and stencils, and the opportunity to add your own creativity and individuality to your projects. This industry isn’t necessarily just about fixing the car—there are many different aspects that make autobody work interesting.” 

“Today’s experience challenged my preconceptions about trades and technology careers,” said  15-year-old Karly. “Hearing Cecile’s presentation and reflecting on my own experience as a female where I felt left out of place during an interview made me realize the importance of having someone believe in and support you, regardless of how you begin your journey. Even if it starts with tasks like sweeping.” 

The ladies left with a clearer vision of a career in the autobody field, with some especially interested in continuing their learning.

“I see myself contributing to the trades in the future by potentially going into welding, electric or auto mechanics,” said 16-year-old Danielle Huszti. “I’d be interested because [the trades] are fun and you’re not just sitting at a desk.”

Check out some photos from the event below. 

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