When someone graduates from a post-secondary institution, they want a job that will lead to a career. This is what Toronto’s Humber College strives for, and it has the graduates to prove it.

One of those graduates is cabinetmaker Shelly Vo, who recently completed a one-year cabinet making program. “I tried a bunch of different things, but it was only when I discovered the program at Humber that I could see a career for myself,” Vo says. “They give you the skills to get a job.”

Humber College’s focus on polytechnic programs, a third option between university and college, blends theoretical knowledge with hands-on, practical experience. This is good not only for graduates but also businesses that can hire job-ready workers.

Following your passions can be your best career move 

“Growing up, I never thought that as a woman I would ever work in the trades, but I tried woodworking and discovered I love it,” Vo says. “The Humber program prepares you to be successful right from the beginning. You learn how to read a measuring tape properly, and use machinery that you will find in a small shop, and the kind of state-of-the-art machinery found in big companies.”

Vo admits she doubted whether the trades was a good career choice, because there aren’t a lot women in these types of careers, but she credits the college, who answered all her questions and encouraged her to pursue this career path. Vo adds that she now has the experience to walk into a shop and feel comfortable operating machines and using tools.

Women find success in the trades

With only one other woman in her small shop, which is home to several Humber graduates, her gender has never been an issue. “It’s a very team-oriented environment and everyone feels equal in our shop. Humber brings up cabinetmakers that are respectful,” she says. “I would encourage young women in high school to take woodworking and other trades courses. The sooner you figure out doing what you love, the longer you can enjoy doing it.”