On May 30, 2018, Conestoga College hosted Jill of All Trades – a special event for female students, funded by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry for Advanced Education and Skills Development. More than 300 students participated.

The day began with an address by Mandy Rennehan, owner of Freshco, recipient of the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur “Momentum” award.  She shared her own self-made pathway success story and voiced her strong support for Women in Skilled Trades initiatives. She also introduced a number of members of her team, two of whom are recent graduates of Conestoga’s WISK program.

Rosie Hessian, the Chair of Community Outreach, Pathways and Youth Engagement for Conestoga College, is responsible for the Jill of All Trades day. She works very hard with her team every year to make the annual event even more successful than the year before, by bringing in new mentors such as Brandi Ferenc, an HVAC Mechanic/Gas Fitter 1 with Johnson Controls. Brandi spoke to the students about her own experiences as a trades person, and her journey from a university degree desk job to being a Red Seal HVAC Mechanic.

Jill of All Trades allows students to select workshops that align with their interests and curiosities. Students choose from several workshops ranging from Automotive Service, Truck and Coach, Heavy Equipment, and Motorcycle Technician, to Masonry, Welding, Plumbing, Millwright, Electrician, Carpentry, and HVAC. Students use the tools of the trades, complete small projects and depart the day with the items they had constructed, new friendships made, and a better understanding of the skilled trades opportunities available to them.

St. David CSS student Melissa Valad said: “I liked HVAC the best. I liked the opportunity to find out and experience a bit of what I would do in the trade.”

Her St. David colleague, Ainslie Huiser, summed the day up best when she said: “It was an eye opening experience, because before this I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and now I know I want to do carpentry.”