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Making it happen

At 71, John has returned to school to complete his third trade.

At 71, John has returned to school to complete his third trade.

Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

The idea of going back to school can be a daunting one at any age, but the decision to make the investment in yourself and your future is worth taking the plunge.

Starting his career as an electrician, then as a boom truck operator and now as an insulator, John Evans is truly a lifelong learner.

John, 71

First-year Insulator Apprentice

What were you doing before SAIT?

This is actually my third trade. I'm also a Journeyman electrician and Journeyman boom truck operator. I started experiencing difficulty operating a boom truck — my eyesight is not as good as it used to be and I didn't want to hurt someone or cause damage. 

The Business Manager for the Insulator's Union Local 110 invited tradespeople to become insulators because there was a lot of work for people in that trade. I jumped at the opportunity to learn a third trade. So, I decided to go back to SAIT to gain more knowledge. 

What has your experience been like coming back to SAIT for training?

It was challenging, but I’ve learned so much. My technical training at SAIT was the first time I ever cut metal, the first time I ever put insulation on pipe. My instructor Heather Moore has been amazing. She comes early in the morning and sticks around at the end of the day to help us if we need it. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I’d make it through the lab module.

What have you done to stay on top of your studies?

It has been quite the learning curve — I had to work hard to keep up. I took scrap metal home from class to practice cutting it into various shapes. I also typed out my notes so I could revise them and add things in as I progressed through the training.

What would you say to someone contemplating a career change?

At my age, if I can make it through, anyone can do it. Having the pre-existing knowledge as a tradesperson has helped me gain a better understanding of what’s expected working as an insulator. Learning a third trade makes me a well-rounded tradesman. I wish I had taken up another trade a long time ago but I felt it wasn't too late to try.

What’s next for you?

I’ll return to work as an insulator where I’ll now have the opportunity to perfect the skills I’ve learned. I was thinking of returning to SAIT to do my second year in the near future, too.

How do you feel going back into the field with first-year training under your belt?

At first I was a little nervous going to SAIT but now I’m more confident. Now I can do some of the actual insulation work. I’ve learned a lot from my instructors. Whenever I had a problem or experienced any difficulty while I was in class learning these new skills, I’d ask my instructors for assistance.  Their 30-second explanation helped solve what could have been a lot of grief.  The new skills I learned at SAIT will help me succeed in becoming a Journeyman insulator.

John’s story is part of the Making it happen series featuring stories of career changers who chose SAIT to help pivot their profession. Read Randy’s story.

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