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February 16, 2022 | 30 Mins Read

How Shannon Tymosko is Taking the Skilled Trades by Storm

February 16, 2022 | 30 Mins Read

How Shannon Tymosko is Taking the Skilled Trades by Storm

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Sarah sits down with the guest start of our 150th episode, Shannon Tymosko, for a discussion around why and how Shannon decided to pivot at age 29 into a career in the skilled trades as an electrician. Shannon shares her story, discusses what makes the trades appealing but what prohibits greater diversity, and points to what must change to increase interest in trade careers.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. I'm super excited to be celebrating our 150th episode today by welcoming a special guest, Shannon Tymosko. We're going to talk today about how Shannon has taken the skilled trades by storm, as she made a big pivot in her career at age 29. So Shannon, welcome to Future of Field Service podcast.

Shannon Tymosko: Thank you so much for having me. I'm very blessed to always share my story and hope to inspire or change a few minds.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes, I'm so glad you're here. I was inspired by your story myself, and I'm excited to share it with our audience.

Shannon Tymosko: Thank you.

Sarah Nicastro: Now, your official title is Apprentice Electrician, right?

Shannon Tymosko: Yep. That's my official work title. Yep.

Sarah Nicastro: And what is your chapter?

Shannon Tymosko: IBEW Local 105 Hamilton.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. And you are also, as we were just chatting about before we started, you've become quite an advocate for the skilled trades and have done a ton of interviews and public speaking and are doing a lot to really educate and advocate for the opportunities that exist for others, which is really cool.

Shannon Tymosko: I try my best. Originally I went to school for child and youth work and then I found those passion for the skilled trades and somehow I've been able to take those two passions, overlap them and create this advocate position. I don't know if it's a real ... is it a position? But it's just nice to be able to inspire some people and hopefully people can live through my experiences and I can help them start their own journey.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Well, we talk quite a bit on this podcast about how the organizations in the various industries that we reach are looking for ways to attract different people to the industry. And so I think that the advocate position is important because that's what starts to spread awareness of what some of the opportunities are. It starts to break down the maybe some of the misperceptions that exist, those sorts of things. So I think it's a really important role.

Shannon Tymosko: 100%. If you can see it, you can be it. That's what I keep saying. Right? How often do we see celebrities more than we see anything else as children? We see Disney princesses, but do we see skilled trades workers? Do we see ladies as skilled trades workers? And so how do we believe we can do something that unless we even know it exists?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Yeah. All right. So let's start with 2017, you are 29 and all of a sudden you decided ... well, maybe not all of a sudden, but you decided you were ready for a change. So tell us a little bit about your journey up to that point. So what were you doing before this big change?

Shannon Tymosko: Well, I'm 33 years of age. So this is not my first, second. I think it's more my fourth career at this point. I did do the typical go to school route. And originally I picked accounting first. I didn't like accounting. I spent a year exploring something, and then I transferred to child youth work, which I found to love. And this is where I found my passion for people, my passion for mental health, change, growth, development, these kinds of things. And then I did work in the field for a while as a child youth worker, I worked at a shelter for homeless youth, one of my favorite jobs. It's just not one of those jobs that I like to say allow you to thrive. You just survive. Especially being a single person on a single income in the GTA, or greater Toronto area, I should say.

Shannon Tymosko: And so I was really struggling, slowly going into debt. And so I had to maintain my college job, not one that I picked. It was just default. I worked at a financial institution. I worked there throughout my entire 20s, nine years. And by the end of it, I only worked ... I only made $20 an hour, about a $40,000 salary. It gets super hard to survive.

Shannon Tymosko: And so I'm almost 30 years of age. I realize I have still 30 years of employment in front of me, which is ... and I realized you spend more time at work than you do at home. It's so important to find something that you love. And so I started this new journey. I started looking at ... you just start online, you Google jobs, you Google jobs that maybe fit your job skill that you already have.

Shannon Tymosko: And nothing was standing out. Until my friend, Matthew, he purchased a home. He bought this house. Neither of us have any trade experience, we're both really green is what they call us, know nothing. And the second day he has the keys to this house he wanted to rip out his kitchen, and I thought he was nuts, but we did. We started with the kitchen and moved to two bathrooms, basement, and I realized in that experience, because I tried something new, I really enjoyed this. And I think that's the biggest learning experience I got there is don't be afraid to try new things.

Shannon Tymosko: And even myself with that lesson, fast forward a couple years, and I always talk about, people, try things. Don't be afraid. And so this, the same friend, Matthew, we love to canoe. So we always go down the river in a canoe. For a year, he bought this new kayak. He tried to convince me to be kayak. And I thought I wouldn't like it, because I love the canoe. Why would I possibly want something different?

Shannon Tymosko: Finally, I get into the kayak and now I love the kayak more than I love the canoe. And again, so even myself, somebody who knows, by trying something, it can lead to so much. We often limit ourselves because of beliefs about ourselves. And so get out and explore the world and try things, because you never know, it could lead you to a passion you never knew about.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So my husband and I, we just had our kitchen remodeled last year. And when we were meeting with the contractor, my husband who is in marketing for his profession was like, "Well, I want to do all the electrical." I'm like, "What?" But he wanted to do it. He was really interested in trying to do it. And it was also a way for us to save some money, and so he did it all himself. I mean, he's very detail oriented. So I mean, he did a lot of research. He did a lot of homework. He actually met with a couple electricians to go over his plans so that he didn't mess something up or burn the house down. And you know, it was a big experience for him because he actually started thinking, "Maybe I would enjoy doing something different."

Sarah Nicastro: I mean, he hasn't yet, but it is something where, when you go through that experience doing something that isn't your daily norm and that seed gets planted of, oh, this is really fun. I really like remodeling this house. You took that and ran with it. And you're living proof that anyone could. You're also living proof for organizations that someone can pivot, someone can have aptitudes, interests, the right personality fit to make a change and be successful in a completely different field. So you're doing these home renovations and you're really liking it. And that is what ignited your interest in becoming an electrician. So what happened next?

Shannon Tymosko: So I applied to some free apprenticeship programs. Having that child youth work skill set, I knew there was programs I'm sure out there. So I researched them programs for women to get into the skilled trades and I applied, very grateful to get in. And so it started my journey to actually getting something on my resume so I can hopefully get an actual job. And so this program was very nice to help set women up for success.

Shannon Tymosko: And so then, yeah, in that program I met a couple of gentlemen that were actually IBEW head office positions. So they did the training, they were the president, and they facilitated some of our training for this program, working at heights, lockout- tagout. And so I was grateful because I got the opportunity for them to see my face, to make that impression because I think it's so important. People are looking for good talent. I think we'll talk about it in a little bit, but I think we need to look for more than just talent. I think we need to look for those other characteristics.

Shannon Tymosko: So when I finished this program and I reached out to them, I was very grateful that they saw my drive, my heart, my eagerness, my want to learn and they were willing to take me on. So the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers here in Hamilton, it is a North American wide union, but Hamilton here took me on and so I started my electrical journey. And yeah, I was very blessed to be put on a construction site that was for a hotel. So you can imagine that it was a large hotel. So it went for quite some time, sometimes your projects aren't so long. So I got almost two years out of this project, and started my base of my electrical skills.

Sarah Nicastro: So what do you love most about being an electrician?

Shannon Tymosko: Oh, I don't know if I can say love most because I love so many things about my job. The financial freedom. I talk a lot about the thriving and not just surviving. The financial freedom, and I think when we're little, I don't know about you, but we see more Disney princesses getting married. So I'm thinking in my head I'm going to be married, certainly before I'm 33. Part of that marriage comes another income. And so these are things that you maybe think about. You don't think about, they just, it's just there. Right? And so now I'm 33, I'm still living on a single income and so this financial freedom that I get with working as an electrical apprentice, I make more as an electrical apprentice than I did in any of my previous jobs.

Shannon Tymosko: And I have the benefits, I have pension and on a much deeper level than just a physical or a financial benefit. What I really love about the skilled trades is I think you kind of talked about it, touched on it a little bit with your husbands taking on the electrical project at home. I talk a lot about mental health and how confidence, how is confidence built? Confidence is built by competence. It's by trying something, failing a few times and then being successful. So what did you talk about? You said there was maybe some self-doubt, what did he do? Researched. He figured it out. Maybe there was some trial and error, but I bet he felt great when he turned that light switch on and everything went on, and that is a little bit of confidence.

Shannon Tymosko: And every day I go to work and I look at something, I might doubt myself a little, they're doubting me a little and I'm successful, that feeling that I built that, I built that, I contributed to me, to society, to my physical and mental health is so rewarding. And so this is one of the most rewarding things I can get, along with this independence at home to try new things. So your husband tried the electrical, might not be what he's doing on a daily basis. For me, I've taken on car repairs. I started with oil changes. I've moved on to breaks, spark plugs, saving myself money and also building myself new skills. And so there's just too many things for me to pick one. Why love the skilled trades and electrical and how much it can benefit someone.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So on the flip side, what would you say is the hardest part of the new career?

Shannon Tymosko: It's funny. I think it's that, again, we've touched on that self-doubt. It's every day you need to remind yourself, you can do this. Remember how far you've come already. And so I often sit here, even two years in this journey and I sit here a little bit in awe that you're in construction. You walk on a construction site every day and one of perhaps 100 people. And I have to remind my myself when I'm having those moments of self-doubt, because the job is ... if you're a hard worker and you're eager, the job is not necessarily hard. There might be hard moments of lifting things, but the job itself is not hard. Most people are very capable if you teach them. And so it's that self-doubt, which every day you have to fight a little.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Now, do you think you have more self-doubt than a male Apprentice Electrician, because you know that all eyes are on you?

Shannon Tymosko: I don't know if it's ... I think women are a little bit maybe ... sometimes I am. I'm just going to say I'm in my head more than most of the men. I like to say, I don't like to put us into ... but I'm definitely in my head. And then there is that pressure of you're a woman. Some of them don't think you belong there. They don't say it to you, but I know. And so there most certainly is this pressure to perform.

Shannon Tymosko: I say this as well. It's not only to perform for myself to know that I'm doing a good days work, but with so few women in the skilled trades, I am a representation of every woman on another construction site who's going to follow me, because men are judging me and they're judging women as a whole at the same time. And that is a different ... that's not the same pressure for my fellow male apprenticeship.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Yeah. So I want to read something that I read from an article you were interviewed for, and this is about being a woman in the industry. And so it says, "Actions often speak louder than words. And being a woman in the skilled trades today means I am still a minority, underestimated and a trailblazer for other women to follow. It means I must be strong, self-aware and realistic that I'm still in a man's world. I must be patient and not push change, but be an ambassador and advocate for change. I must be persistent, work hard and show the young women of tomorrow that they too can do whatever they desire."

Sarah Nicastro: "If you see it, then it's easier to believe you can be it. Although my experience is limited to only a short few years, I can say it can be lonely at times being the only woman on a construction site. It's also rewarding knowing you helped build that and had the courage to walk back into work every day where so many other others wouldn't." And so, I mean, first of all, this speaks volumes of your character and fortitude, because it does take a lot of courage. Everyone, you're probably right in saying every human being has some variation of their own self-doubt, but the pressure you're under is magnified because of the fact that there's these longstanding perceptions and these societal norms and this, that, and the other thing.

Shannon Tymosko: And the pressure is not just for ... I think the pressure's for any minority. Oh yeah. Let's be honest, in construction it's not very diverse. So whether you're the woman or you're the person who looks different in any way, there's a different pressure for that person.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And I think, like you said in this statement, some isolation. Which is hard if ... I mean, you said it's the brotherhood, right. Is IBEW. So that in a name even is ... and so if there's this brotherhood and you're the odd man or woman out, because you're different in some way, it adds an extra layer of challenge of coming to work every day and doing what you need to do and feeling fulfilled. So I commend you.

Sarah Nicastro: What I wanted to ask is, if you think big picks those feelings that you have knowing that you're the minority, knowing that you're in a man's world, feeling that sense of isolation sometimes, how do we move past that? So for a variety of skilled trades that understand they need to hire with more diversity, women and all different types, that's going to be a big challenge. Because some people wouldn't want to take on what you take on every time you walk into a job site. So what do you think in your opinion, from a culture perspective, what are some of the things that need to change so that it isn't quite so daunting for a woman or for any minority to be a part of the brotherhood?

Shannon Tymosko: I think it's just going to take time. I think it's just going to take more women or more equality, everybody, a little bit of diversity. And it's interesting, because over my experience, I've met some incredible women and they've taught me some incredible things. And one of them said to me, she said, "Shannon, I've been in industry with predominantly men my entire life. And whenever they have a meeting, whether I'm in that meeting or not, they call me in," and for whatever reason, just because she changes the energy of the room. And yet you think about that. And I had this, at work one day there was a moment that clarified and validated this. I was working I was up on a ladder installing a light. There's hallways, you can't quite see what's in front of you.

Shannon Tymosko: And I heard someone comment, the supervisor that was on site, he was mad. He was yellow. And I was just grateful I wasn't on the other end. But he turned the corner, saw me, he didn't stop. He was still saying what he needed to say, but his volume dropped in half. What's different than me? And so I think just with more of us, it changes the energy. And how do you do that is the next question. How do you get more women interested into the skill trades? And I think we all know the answer, because we say it all the time. Education is power. Education is free. Education gives people the ability to make choices.

Shannon Tymosko: And so the problem I think with the skilled trades is we don't educate soon enough. And so if the option isn't presented to you before you're maybe 8, 10 years of age, do you ever consider it? Because there's so much, I don't want to say brainwashing, conditioning. There's so much conditioning. We see us as women, we see princesses. The boys see trucks and construction workers. Well, where's our equal balance of women construction workers to say that you can do that too?

Shannon Tymosko: Maybe it needs to be a princess construction worker who goes around the castle and fixes things. I don't know, but we need to start reaching young people at a younger level so that they ... and that goes for men too, to get them interested in the skilled trades so that they know that this is an option. Because people ask me often ask me, why did I pick electrical? And I feel my answer speaks volumes, because I was undereducated. I picked electrical because that's what I saw.

Shannon Tymosko: Growing up, I saw plumbing, electrical, roofers, carpenters. This is very basic. But if I had some education, I would've probably picked in hindsight, something that was a little bit less flooded, something elevator maintenance, a lot of electrical base in that, but it's not as flooded of a trade, and that's because of education. And so young and old, doesn't matter how old, we need to start introducing the idea to younger people so that it can be something they consider.

Sarah Nicastro: I mean, meanwhile, those elevator companies are within our audience, and they're looking for people to take those jobs. I mean, if you ever decide you want to go down that path, you probably still have plenty of opportunity, but you're right. There's gender norms that are still being reinforced, and that is prohibiting, like you said, we see more and actresses than female skilled trade workers. We see becoming a movie star as a more realistic career path than becoming an electrician, as a female. And so they just aren't roles that are shown in the same light. And I think part of that is this perception of ... like my parents didn't go to college, so it was always pushed to me that I had to, because that was the gold standard.

Sarah Nicastro: I don't necessarily think that's the case any anymore. And we need to do a better job of sharing more paths and more choices, and not just even in the education system, defaulting to everyone, there is no right or singular ... it's not a conveyor belt, right? Let's just move them all along and they'll go off and do these five, do want to be a doctor? Whatever. Because there are too many individuals for it to be that standardized in terms of the options.

Shannon Tymosko: And don't get me wrong, actress is a very glamorous position. Would you not to get pretty and dressed up in a dress on a regular basis? Absolutely. But let's be honest, is it a realistic one for most people? And the funny thing is, you know what? I've had my best chance. I've never been asked to be in a magazine in my life until I became a skilled trade worker.

Sarah Nicastro: And now you're famous. I mean, who knew that was the path?

Shannon Tymosko: There's so many different avenues you can go down. And I think one of the biggest things we need to tackle is misperception as well. I think let's take a look and compare my child youth work job with my electrical job. And a lot of people don't go the skilled trades route because of things it's too dirty.

Shannon Tymosko: As a child youth worker, I wiped bums, not my own kids bums, stranger's bums. Noisy? Sure. But I get earplugs as electrical worker. As a child youth worker, I do not get to say, "Child, please stop screaming," as I put in my ear plugs. And then the not strong enough thing. I was lifting kids out of wheelchairs to place them in whichever position they might be. Why can't I do that as a skilled trades worker? And so if it's perception, if you've ever thought maybe I could be a caretaker and take care of somebody, it's quite the possibility that you have the same skillset to be a skilled trade worker.

Sarah Nicastro: I guess. And to your point, the earning potential is far higher. I mean, yeah. It's a really good point. And you mentioned-

Shannon Tymosko: On a plus side, I don't have to get dressed up every day, every work. I know that the glamorous thing sounds nice, but now I don't have to do that at all. And so I get an extra 30 minutes of sleep every day.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. That's a plus. Okay. I wanted to share this point that you made, and you were talking about your nephew. And you were saying that even though you have made this career transition and you are working in construction as an electrician, he still defaults to asking the men around him, "Can you fix this?" Or so just going back to this idea that, for us to really make a change, I think in increasing diversity in the trades and in any traditionally male dominated career we really have to think about the representation at a very, very young age.

Shannon Tymosko: And we might just have to flood the network ... not flood the network, but they're flooded with other things of boys in construction positions. One is not enough, even in a real situation. One is not enough. It needs to be maybe flooded and there needs to be an excess amount of women representation in the skilled trades for people to start to get that change.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I've done a series on the platform before called Women in Field Service. And we would feature women in different roles across the industries that we cover. And one time I was talking to someone, and they gave me what they felt was constructive criticism, that how do you expect things to be equal if you keep pointing it out as women in?

Sarah Nicastro: And I thought a lot about it because I always try to be cognizant of what messages I'm sending and, or reinforcing. And I try to always be willing to learn. But where I landed is I would love to get to a point where it doesn't have to be pointed out, but we're not there yet. And to your point, we won't get there by being quiet about it. I think we have to keep talking about it and talking about the importance of it until it no longer needs that label because the work has been done so that it isn't just women in field service, it's just person and field service, but we're a long ways away from that being the norm.

Shannon Tymosko: It's interesting you say that, because as a person who's active on social media, I often get lots of comments, and sometimes some of the words ... I think the word that people have used is, why is this such a novelty, women being in the skilled trades? And I want to go to my phone right now and Google the definition of novelty, because I don't remember it 100%, but I think it landed on until it's a norm, until it's a norm and you see it on a regular basis, it is a novelty. And so we have to again, make it so normal that people don't look into the crowd and see the difference.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, no, I think it's really important. And I think the work you're doing in telling your story and sharing your story is really helpful, especially because you pivoted, and hopefully people will come up and girls will choose this as their career from the get go and share their story as well.

Sarah Nicastro: So what else do you think ... is there any other tricks to helping the next generation see the potential that exists in the skilled trades? So we talked a lot about representation and how important that is. Is there anything else we need to be thinking out in terms of planning more seeds among kids, regardless of boy, girl, any gender and background, but just understanding that this is a viable career path and something that they could consider?

Shannon Tymosko: 100%. I talked on it earlier about actually trying something. We can put the representation there all we want, but unless we present the opportunity to try, they'll never know if they like it. So we need to, I think definitely reintroduce if your school has removed those programs of skilled trades, things like basic skills, like budgeting, these kinds of things are so important and they're not taught at the basic level. So if there was a class where you ... not say forced, you're forced to take math. So yes, if you were forced to take a construction class where you learned the basics for home care, I don't see anything wrong with that.

Shannon Tymosko: And I talked about it earlier today, how do we make change? And I don't know about you, but over my lifetime the common presence that I got as a girl were things pajamas, lotion, perfume. Thank you. And it slowly collects because it slowly collects and then it expires, what do boys get? Boys get hammers and maybe they'll get fun little tool sets. They probably don't think they're all that interesting at 10, but they turn 17. And they're like, "Oh man, I just got a car. And that tool set I got when I was 10," and they can revisit their present.

Shannon Tymosko: My lotion has far expired at this point. So get some tools into the hands of young people. If you have a project at home, drag your kids out to experience it, like you're changing your tires over. In Canada, we're doing the summer winter thing on a regular basis [crosstalk 00:32:20] home, get your kids involved, get their hands on the tool. You don't know if they'll it until they've tried it, and it's so important to give them that opportunity to try.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That's a really good point. Okay. So let's think as if you are giving advice to ... doesn't need to be construction, any company that is in an industry that has traditionally been seen as male dominated, or has traditionally been male dominated that is looking to attract a younger, more diverse pool of candidates. What are some of the things that they need to be thinking about in terms of having a message that would resonate with someone you at 29 before you made this transition?

Shannon Tymosko: It's interesting, because I feel I'm a little biased on this because I've just recently gone through some of the hiring process. I normally leave it out of my journey because it just adds to it, but I did a little bit of machining in the midst of all of this. So I've applied for two different trades positions over the years. And the thing, the struggle I came across most was there's just not many entry level first year positions or even second year because people want the third, fourth, fifth year. And I totally get that.

Shannon Tymosko: I worked business. As a small business, you don't want to train someone to know what a pen is if they don't know yet. And that's the thing about the skilled trades, is you're learning new things day, you're learning ... there's so much material and everything's got three names plus a nickname. It's very overwhelming for that new hire, and new employers don't want to take them on.

Shannon Tymosko: So for me I'm like, is there a demand and skilled trades for ... and workers? Because I get so many people messaging me saying, "How do I get a job?" Employers, they have to understand it's going to cost money to take on the next generation and what you're going to lose if you don't do it, employers, and this is what you need to listen to is I'm not so concerned everybody about the lack of workers. I'm concerned about the potential loss of knowledge that you're about to lose.

Shannon Tymosko: Electrical goes from ... and I don't even know it. I'm so inexperienced, but I know there's knob and tube, there's aluminum, and then there's the new smart devices and all these different things. How much has technology changed in the last 50 years alone that those senior guys are going to take with them and you haven't passed down that knowledge to your new hires? Because I get it, it costs money, but that's the part of the apprenticeship process. They don't go to university and college, you pay the minimum wage, but you have to train them. There's a cost associated with that. And employers need to start taking that on.

Shannon Tymosko: To me, it's a little bit of both sides. There's people interested. I'm interested, there are people interested. I promise you. You just need to be open to new people.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, no, I think that's a really good point. And we've talked about that a bit, that the organizations who have historically hired on experience as the primary characteristic, it's becoming harder and harder to find yet there are really good candidates that have interests, aptitudes, abilities that could be developed into experience pretty quickly if we just shift the way we look at hiring and what type of training and development programs exist.

Sarah Nicastro: That being said, I think one of the things that stood out to me about your story is you have this hunger to learn, right? You're really big on not just showing up and doing your best, but being open to the learning process. And so do you think that's something that is innate or do you think that's something that someone can nurture and develop?

Sarah Nicastro: Because I think if we think about a future where, let's say more of those entry level programs exist where whether you're fresh out of school or whether you've been in a certain career and you want to make a change the way you did, you don't have any experience, but you have some skills or abilities or interests that you think would be applicable. If you go into those programs though, I mean, you have to have this strong willingness to learn. And to in a lot of ways, be humble and to show up every day and be ready to take it all in and try different things and learn as you go and fall down and get back up. Do you feel like everyone has that or could develop that or do you think it's just something that is innate in certain people?

Shannon Tymosko: It's very interesting. That's the age old question of nature versus nurture. And it's like, as a child and youth worker, it's one of the questions that are presented to us on a regular basis. Is this something that they're born with or did it in some way, this was created? And I've had the recent opportunity to watch my cousin raise two children. And she's a teacher, she's a fabulous mother. The first one comes out, genius reading books. So I'm thinking the next one, he's going to be the exact same. Well, didn't you nature just take over? This one's a runner. Doesn't want to talk yet. Nope. He just wants ... he is such an explorer climbing on tables. And so she's done the exact same thing. And so it's a little bit of both.

Shannon Tymosko: I think we could definitely mold and train and guide people in the right direction, but maybe we need to think about when we're little, we have such a hunger for learning. We're out exploring the world. We want to know what the bugs are, because it's all so new to us. When do we lose this hunger for learning? Maybe they're not presenting interesting enough topics in high school or elementary school to keep that flame alive. And so it's again, I think you are definitely born with a certain amount of things you can not control. I talk a lot. I try to control that for years. Can't. But I definitely think you can guide, mold and encourage and mentor someone in the right direction with the right intentions.

Sarah Nicastro: For sure. Okay. So another thing that I really liked about you when I was researching your profile is you speak out openly about mental health, which is something that I not only respect, but also try and do myself. So two questions related to this. The first is, how has your pivot into the skilled trades either helped or hindered your mental health?

Shannon Tymosko: Great question. One of the things, again, I touched on it earlier, but I didn't dive into it that one of the things I love about the skilled trades is how it's given me physical and mental health, that's very quickly brushed over, but there's so much more to that. As a person, myself who struggles, whether it's some depression, a little bit of probably anxiety at times, I've gone through my fair share of professionals. That's what's pushed me to be a child youth worker. So I wanted to understand more about myself.

Shannon Tymosko: And so I've gone to a doctor, my doctor, if you have a good doctor, the doctor, before he prescribes you on some medication should ask you if you exercise. And my answer up to that point was no, because I sit behind a desk for 40 hours. And so what am I doing for my mental health? If just a little bit of exercise can change the way I feel. And so being in construction, you don't get to sit. It's not a sitting job, and I'm not one to go to the gym ever. You have to pay me to work out.

Shannon Tymosko: And so this job I'm being paid to take care of my own mental health in a way. And the physical aspect, just that part, it keeps you younger. It keeps you active, keeps you moving. Especially most of us have been trapped at home during COVID. So to have that ability to go out and do something, there's some days you don't want to, trust me. Sure. But then by the end of the day, you're grateful that ... it's like when you go to the gym and you're happy that you made it there. I know some people can relate to that.

Sarah Nicastro: That's what you hear anyway.

Shannon Tymosko: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: The other part of this though that I'm curious about, is mental health a conversation you've normalized at all at work, since you've gotten into the skilled trades?

Shannon Tymosko: It's not something that's talked ever, I think as a whole. It's not you're ever going to be like, "This week's safety talk is on mental health and respect," and that it's not really something that regularly comes up in a group setting, but it's shocking as a woman in the skilled trades, I think men they just feel their defenses come down a little bit. So I'm the first one to get to see your new baby picture, and this is ... that's a moment that they're being vulnerable. They're being a little bit more sensitive than they would before.

Shannon Tymosko: And so in individual one on one settings I think I've been able to create some conversations about it. They start to open up a little bit. If I talk a little bit about my mental health, sometimes they might share a little bit about themselves and it just gives me that little bit of a bond. And again, that word, normalizes it, I guess. And I think it's too much to take it on as as a whole, but if you can get to ... you can change the mindset, encourage someone that it's okay to be themself. You might be able to shift the energy.

Shannon Tymosko: And with more women just entering the skilled trades, that's going to shift naturally because once the numbers are in our favor and there's a two on one, one day and there's two females and one male, you have no choice but to deal with our conversations of choice. And so it will just hopefully make change a little bit easier with more women.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, well, it's great that you're on the front lines doing the hard work for all of us.

Shannon Tymosko: So kind of you.

Sarah Nicastro: Is there anything else, Shannon, that we haven't talked about that you think is an important part of your story or your message for others, looking at the skilled trades or in the skilled trades?

Shannon Tymosko: Just thank you for listening. I think the fact, if you're here, that means you're open to change. It means you're open to listening, and that's the first step is just starting that conversation and being open to it. So if you're listening today, thank you very much. And hopefully there's something that maybe resonated with you or something that just encourage you. Some of my most blessed things are when I get messages from women themselves, or sometimes parents, but their kids came home from a presentation that day. And they're like, "I don't know what you said to my daughter that day, but she can't stop talking about it." And those are the ones that just bless my heart.

Sarah Nicastro: That's awesome.

Shannon Tymosko: Thank you for anybody who's, yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Did I read that you have a kids' book?

Shannon Tymosko: As I've talked about, trying to reach out you younger generation, it's motivated me to make a kids' book. So I've got what they call the manuscript done.

Sarah Nicastro: You're working on one.

Shannon Tymosko: I'm working on it.

Sarah Nicastro: I love that.

Shannon Tymosko: To again, try to read that younger generation, and I think there's so much potential there. And so how can I make change? Hopefully with a little book.

Sarah Nicastro: That's awesome. Well, we'll definitely stay tuned for that. I think it's a wonderful idea. And the speaking that you're doing, not only here and in different articles, but certainly going to schools and sharing your experience, I mean, you're doing really important work in making the progress that you want to see made. And I'm sure there's days where it feels that progress is significant. And there's probably other days where you're like, "Is it ever going to be equal or is it just always going to be me feeling isolated?"

Sarah Nicastro: But you're doing the work every day to change that, and I think it's awesome. And I also think your story is a really helpful one for organizations that are trying to break the mold on who they hire, how they hire, to really hear someone's firsthand perspective and be able to think about what made you want to change? What was important to you? What do you like about what you're doing? What are some of the challenges? I mean, that's how they can start to think differently and make progress in their organizations as well.

Shannon Tymosko: Awesome. Well thank you for having me, and I really hope that I can be that influence and make some change. And sometimes it means you have to stir and create a little dirty laundry. You need to create conversations, but with that conversation, hopefully also comes some really great, amazing things for everybody.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. Well, I appreciate you spending some time with me today, Shannon.

Shannon Tymosko: Thank you so much for having me, Sarah. I really appreciate being here with you and your guests.

Sarah Nicastro: Thanks. You can find more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter @thefutureofFS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at IFS.com. As always, thank you for listening.