For Trudie Dole, the pandemic has a silver lining.
She’d been interested in the AJAC Manufacturing Academy for over a year, but as a single mother of four it was hard to fit the classes into her schedule. Then her retail job was deemed nonessential and AJAC moved classes online, and Dole jumped at the opportunity.
“It was a pretty big challenge, having four kids at home and all of us doing remote learning! But even with the pandemic I was able to learn all sorts of new skills and get a job in the aerospace industry.”
A year ago Dole was looking for a change — she’d recently committed to sobriety, and after a friend introduced her to some manufacturing concepts and machines she decided she’d like to work at Boeing. She applied for a variety of entry-level positions, but her resume needed a boost. That’s when she heard about the programs at the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC).
“There are programs and scholarships to help people like me retrain and find better opportunities. I didn’t have a perfect past, but I’ve dealt with that issue and AJAC still welcomed me,” she says, encouraging others to consider advanced manufacturing. “There’s more out there than just retail and the food and beverage industry.”
During the 10-week AJAC Manufacturing Academy, Dole learned how to read a micrometer, use callipers, read blueprints and brush up on math skills while earning college credits and exploring career pathways.
“I’d had a barrier to understanding math in the past, but the Manufacturing Academy gave me a solid foundation,” she says. “In my job at Aero-Plastics Incorporated I make quick calculations in my head all the time.”
Dole’s instructors at AJAC encouraged her to attend a virtual job fair where she had the opportunity to submit her resumé to a variety of companies in Washington’s thriving advanced manufacturing industry and meet with potential employers. That’s where she connected with Aero-Plastics Incorporated, and eventually landed a job.
Soon her employer plans to train her on a machine, and then Dole hopes to take the AJAC Machinist Apprenticeship to earn her nationally-recognized Journey-Level Certificate. But even at her current job in shipping and receiving, Dole is engaged and empowered.
“I use a micrometer to measure materials and I feel confident with all the terminology,” she says. “It’s a good, consistent job. It gives me the security of a typical 9-5 office job, but it’s still active. I’m learning on the job every day.”
Washington’s advanced manufacturing employers are hungry for new talent, and the AJAC Manufacturing Academy is your first step to an exciting career. Funding streams are available to remove barriers and increase opportunities for all Washington residents.