Getting Past the 7-Year Itch

Modern day Rosie the Riveter, Andrea Leone shares her experience in the welding industry and where she sees the future of the trade.

Meet Andrea Leone from Downers Grove, IL. She’s a literal Carmen. Or Car-man rather, since she works on commuter cars for the city of Chicago. When she’s not maintaining coach cars, she’s gardening or getting herself into some arts and crafts.

We caught up with her to learn more about her history in welding and what she thinks we can look forward to in the industry!

How long have you been welding and what got you interested in it?

I’ve been welding for 7 years here and there. I just remember the sound when I tried it as an apprentice and fell in love.

How did you train? And what welding processes do you use the most or feel more familiar with?

I had a journeyman take me under his wing.

I mainly use Stick and MIG.

What is your job now?

I work on commuter cars for the city of Chicago. I do my duties as a car-man when needed and maintain the coach cars. Plus, federal testing and welding.

What has been your biggest career challenge to date?

Always improving my technique and not getting frustrated with myself.

Where do you see the Job opportunities in this industry? What’s the best path for success for both women and men, especially given the projected shortage of skilled welders? 

Fab shops, underwater welding, construction, railroad, even SPACE!  The opportunities are everywhere. Question is, are you doing what you need to do to get you there?!

The best path for success is don’t ever give up and always challenge yourself!

Do you think it is a good career path for a young woman starting out today?  What advice would you give a young woman entering the workforce?

Yes! Any trade is good. Make yourself indispensable at your job. Plus, you can take your skill with you where ever you go and open up so many doors.  ALWAYS KEEP CHALLENGING YOURSELF!!

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

Pay attention in math!!! It is not my strong suit.

And, don’t over think it.

A lot of people rely on social media to find like-minded tradespeople, or they attend welding courses to interact with them. Where do you find support to make it through the industry? 

My co workers, peeps on insta, friends and family.

What do you say when you hear the following?

You don’t need to be smart to be a welder

When you say smart, do you mean book smart or being a smart ass?

Welding is dirty work

Has anyone ever made money with clean hands?

There are not a lot of opportunities to advance

There is always opportunity to advance! Within your job, your skills and yourself!! Welding opens so many doors. You can fabricate, fix and learn as you go!

Welding is not work for women

Women make better welders. More patience and steadier hands.

Have you experienced discrimination as a woman welder? If yes, how have you handled it?

I’ve never really been told anything to my face. I always ask for help and never give up which I think got me respect from the other guys.

And Now We Bid Adieu

To learn more about Andrea, check her out on Instagram!

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