Whitney Kendrick was looking for a new career when she came to Montgomery Community College. After being laid off from her job, she decided to try a trade – something she could do working with her hands.
“I wanted a skill that I knew I could be really good at, and could be proud to take with me wherever I went,” said Whitney. Whitney chose welding. Although it’s a predominantly male field, she didn’t give that a second thought.
“The field is wide open and there will always be jobs,” she said. The added bonus was that the class was entirely hands-on. “I don’t like sitting in a classroom. I like things you can use steady hands for. It’s like putting on makeup,” she said.
The guys might not like the idea of welding being compared to putting on makeup, but the need for steady hands is accurate. Her instructor, Chuck Davis, told Whitney she was going to make a good TIG welder because of her ability to keep a steady hand. Whitney now has two TIG certifications and works full-time at K-M Machine Co. in Biscoe.
“On my job I do primarily MIG welding, but my boss tells me I’m the best MIG welder he’s got,” she said. Whitney wasn’t always so confident, and at first, she found welding frustrating.
“Everything I did looked horrible. I’m a perfectionist and I wanted things to be just right. You’ve got to hold the torch at a certain angle at a certain speed. You have to hold your hands steady for a long time. Until you build muscle memory, it’s tiring,” she said.
Once Whitney had several projects completed in class, she gained the confidence to keep going. Plus, she said there wasn't a lot of pressure, and the instructor made concepts easy to understand.
“It wasn’t intimidating or overwhelming. Chuck made it simple,” she said.
Recently, Whitney was asked to talk to several groups of high school girls about career paths that are traditionally male-dominated. The girls were very interested to hear Whitney’s story.
“Anything girls want to do, they can do,” Whitney said. “Just because you’re female doesn’t mean you can’t do it,” she said. Whitney says she loves welding and can’t imagine doing anything else. Although she is now pregnant with her second child, she plans on working as long as she can.
“Taking Welding at Montgomery Community College was a wonderful experience and a great accomplishment. There isn’t anything Chuck Davis can’t do. He doesn’t mind helping you and working with you one-on-one,” Whitney said.
See Whitney's story and more like it in Montgomery Community College's fall 2019 class schedule "Fuel Your Fire" coming to every mailbox in Montgomery County by June 30th!