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Not every kid after high school wants to go to college or continue their education further. Some of them are more tempted to join the workforce right away and find a good job in something they like and would like to learn.


Regarding myself, for instance, I decided to study and work in construction, our subject for this article. See, here’s what happens when you finish high school, we all, or at least most of us, make the mistake of “following the trend” and what pays the most, disregarding what we would love to do and what each one of us, as an individual, is good at.


So, in this article, we will be focusing on the pros and cons of construction as a career, and 5 lessons I learned from working in it.

To begin with, as for construction, you need to be at least 16 years old, pass the provincial qualification exam for the trade covered by the application, successfully complete the health and general safety course for construction sites and have a high school diploma.

However, for most construction labour jobs, a high school diploma is the minimum education requirement. Moreover, trade school teaches you ways on how to become a skilled construction worker.

You’ll learn how to use certain equipment, read plans, tools, heavy machinery and how to drive boom lift machines. Some domains demand long training, like electrician schooling, for instance, takes up to about 9 months in class and 4 years to complete, with 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training each year of your apprenticeship. My first experience in construction was a very cold Monday morning in Montreal Canada. I was shocked, on one hand by the weather, on the other that I couldn’t wear my winter coat because it made it impossible to tie my tool belt around my waist. I learn later that most people wear two layers of hoodies, and that’s the typical winter coat for a construction worker. It was a contract for the city of Montreal, a library for the city of Pierrefonds in West End. As I enter the construction site, I could see the building didn’t even have walls or windows installed. From there, I knew this was going to be a long ride to get to know this domain, but all challenges were accepted, so why not, and spring was about to come shortly.

At this library, I had the chance to be there from the start to the end of the project, it gave me 2 and half years of experience in construction and that was my favourite job site, I learned everything there. My first work partner was Michael, he was 63 years old, he started to work as a tinsmith at the age of 16 years old, that’s all he knew, but he was the best I’ve ever met in the field. For you who don’t know, a tinsmith is someone who is a worker who makes or repairs things of sheet metal such as tinplate.

My first lesson came from Mike, he taught me to always be aware of everything going around me if I don’t want to get hurt. There are more than 100 people on a big commercial job site, such as plumbers, carpenters, electricians, elevator mechanics and more. With Mike, we were doing everything from installing ventilation systems to assembling runs for other workers. He taught me how to read a plan, which is very hard to understand the first time because it’s not a plan designed only for you, but for the whole site, and you got to understand every quotation and measure very well so as not to get stopped by a wall or pipeline from somebody else’s work, and Mike only explains once, if you weren’t listening, that’s your problem. Louis was my second work partner; I would share the day with him sometimes when Mike didn’t need my help. He was the best teacher ever because he would make sure you understood well before letting you go. He taught me how to work correctly, to take my time no matter what, because in construction it was harder to redo a job than to just do it once. He showed me how to be fully equipped with clothing and tools, and how to sign up for advantages and insurance. My second lesson was to be patient on everything and never rush.

My first construction site was my favourite and I thought every job site was going to have the same environment and work ethic. It was totally the opposite of that, I never had the chance to be in a great team like the first one and learned again like that. I was, most of the time, getting transferred from job site to job site and that was something that bothered me.

Sometimes mother nature has other plans for you, and that’s where my third lesson will help you be prepared the most. One day, on a hot humid day in Montreal downtown, we were renovating Holt Renfrew Ogilvy; it was really one of the most challenging and demanding sites ever. Most of the stores and offices were still open during the renovation because we were working per section of the building. That day we received 2 full 53” foot trucks full of equipment ventilation docs, ladders, plan tables, isolations, rods, suspension equipment and boxes of tape and glue. We were three apprentices and we all had the same task to empty this truck before lunch. It started to pour rain, not even 15 minutes in and one guy had to go back inside to help the others. We ended up being 2 guys to unload both trucks in the rain, and I always look a day before on how the weather is going to be and by doing that you get to bring more clothes to the job or at least be more prepared, however, on that day I was totally wrong. By the time we finished the wet unloading marathon, I was drenched from head to toe and had to continue the rest of the day like this, there was no easy way I could go home and come back in time, lunch break was only 30 minutes and that was the time it took me to get home.

The fourth lesson in construction always has extra clothing because you never know how the day is going to be.

In the fifth lesson, you got to have your own tools on you. Nobody really likes to share their equipment because equipment gets stolen, I learned that the hard way. At first, I didn’t have a tool bag, it takes time to assemble the right equipment because most of them were expensive and you always have a limited budget.


Most people think that because you finish at two o’clock in the afternoon that your job is amazing. However, waking up at four in the morning, being the only one getting ready to go to work and knowing that at six am it’s time to go to work until two o’clock was tiring physically! During your day, you’re going to walk kilometres of distance along with moving and lifting heavy equipment all day. Most of the time I was working alone and in tough environments, sometimes working at night, doing demolition, working underground and not seeing daylight. It was a lot of things that I didn’t know about and day by day I was losing interest in the job and staying there only for money wasn’t the best route to take. At the end of the day, I was always exhausted both physically and mentally due to the hours I was spending driving and working. I wanted more and knew I was capable of more; a better lifestyle was the only thing I had in mind. Also, on a site, even a minor slip or fall can cause serious injury. While work sites are much safer now than ever before, dangerous work conditions are still something you must always keep in mind before choosing construction work as your livelihood. Construction is a very broad term, and the pay scales will vary depending on the type of construction job you are doing, as well as your skillset. However, compared to other labour jobs, a construction worker can expect to enjoy an excellent paycheck when there is work. Construction is a very broad term, and the pay scales will vary depending on the type of construction job you are doing, as well as your skillset. However, compared to other labour jobs, a construction worker can expect to enjoy an excellent paycheck when there is work. In general, many trades allow you to earn $50,000 or more after you have enough experience. Also, if you own your own business, work for a successful company, or serve in a management/supervisor role, you can earn even more. Another advantage to working in construction is that for many trades, it’s easy to enter the trade and start a career with almost no experience. For many trades, you can start as a labourer, work hard, learn the trade over a few years, and progress in your skills, position, and salary. Many contractors in trades like carpentry, remodelling, and more, are looking for people that are hard-working and willing to learn. During your first two years in construction, you’re going to get tested by the more experienced individuals, depending on your team and company as well. You’re always going to be the one chosen for ‘cleaning day’, which happens to be every Friday, empty the garbage’s in the employee room, empty the Forman truck every morning when he brings material, arrange the storage room daily, isolate the vents with a special glue, and this is all probably what you’re going to be doing for a while from Monday to Friday.

Takeaway

Therefore, you have to be patient no matter what the circumstances are and whatever they throw at you. It’s hard to adapt at first, but after a couple of months, you’re going to get your chance to install and work with the others. If you do good, you’ll probably never do these old tasks again. This is my full two-year experience in the construction world and my first taste of life and adulthood. I learned a lot in those years, I was only seventeen when I started. Being interested in construction helped me fix stuff around the house and being handy; builds character and helps you mature faster. So, for every young man that doesn’t know what to do after high school and wants to experience this field, you will not regret it no matter how it ends.

Love written with peoples fingers

“The Camino has no religion, no gender, no colour, no bigotry, no misogyny, no racism. It is a human journey for all who want to do it.”

Camino Frances, also known as The Way of Saint James, is a 775 km pilgrimage across northern Spain.

On March 26, 2016, I packed two small bags, boxed up my bike and hopped a plane to Paris. Lugging a clumsy bike box through the narrow Parisian streets, I took a train to Bayonne in southern France, assembled my bike and rode 5 hours to a town in the Pyrenees mountains called Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, where my journey on the Camino began.

The Camino is a secular pilgrimage frequented by people of all faiths, including those with no religious beliefs. On my journeys, I have met people of all genders, ages, sexualities and abilities.

The Camino is for anyone and everyone. It has no religion, no gender, no colour, no bigotry, no misogyny, no racism. It is a human journey for all who want to do it.

Some of the most common reactions among those who have done it are, “The Camino changes you”, “You’re not the same at the end of the Camino as when you started,” or “The Camino helps you know yourself.”

I didn’t come to find God. I came to find myself. I travelled inwards while also conquering raw outdoor spaces.

The Camino is a human experience where we are all walking together and helping each other along the way.

I saw people carrying each other’s’ bags, some getting bananas for each other, some carrying each other.

Lina Nahhas is a Palestinian-Canadian woman and founder of the Sameness Project who coined the term ‘sameness moment’. As she describes it, The Sameness Moment is when you look into the eyes of another human being, and all preconceived notions about culture and identity melt away so you see them as they truly are.

This explains beautifully what it felt like to be a pilgrim among pilgrims. I saw people helping each other all the time. People would go out of their way to help complete strangers. I saw some carrying others when they were too tired or broken to keep going on their own, sharing their last banana or going out of their way to find water for others.

It didn’t matter what we were – Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Jewish, man or woman, gay or straight – there was no division, there was no we/they, no rich/poor. There was only one thing: we are all human on a human journey together. People were lifting one another up, all the time.

The following is a short story of help on my Camino.

The German Woman

I chose to go on a part of the trip that most pilgrims skip: the road between Burgos and Leon. As there is not much to do along this route, I wasn’t stopping for many breaks. At one point, I ran out of water. I had biked for 4 hours straight and reached a part where there was 35 KM left till the next stop. I was getting dehydrated and needed water. I even considered drinking from a puddle on the road, but I kept it together, talking myself into being okay. I paced myself and kept moving, trying to expend as little energy as possible.

The last 10 km had me worried. I was lightheaded and felt like passing out. Out of nowhere, I saw a woman looking around. I stopped and asked her for water. She gave me a bottle and I guzzled it down without thinking until I realized there were only a few sips left. I asked her if it was ok to finish it and she said yes.

I finished the water and thanked her, gave her a hug and asked her if she wanted company for the next 7 km. We walked all the way there together.

I learned all about her and the reason she was walking. She waited until we reached the hostel and then ran to the water, as I did. That is when I realized that she had given me all she had. I felt so blessed and, for that brief moment, I had so much hope for humanity.

The Jewish American Woman

I’m a proud Canadian, but as I mentioned, my origins are Lebanese. Growing up in Lebanon, you don’t hear much about Jewish people. When I moved to Montreal, I had my first bagel, I ate smoked meat and I made friends with Jewish people, I owe a lot of opportunities in my life and career to my Jewish friends. Sameness. The more I mingled with these people I had been discouraged from mingling with, the more I understood that we shared the same hopes, dreams and aspirations. Even the same worries and concerns.

I met a Jewish woman from the US on one of my Camino journeys. She was so friendly and we enjoyed each other’s company so much that I decided to stay behind an extra day with her.

Halfway through the day, I started to feel sick and realized I hadn’t eaten since the day before. She gave me some of her food to eat. It was a cheese sandwich and only after I finished eating did I realize it was all the food she had. I never got to thank her, but I’ll never forget the kind gesture and great company. It was because of her selflessness that I was able to finish my journey.

The next time you catch yourself falling into ingrained beliefs or stereotypes about any group of people, think twice about it. Ask yourself where your beliefs really come from. Share a meal with that person you think you know so much about. You don’t know anything about anyone until you have a conversation with them. Drink some water, break some bread, communicate and that should open your mind. Otherwise, keep your opinions to yourself.

The Spanish Guy

On day 10 of this trip, I was approaching O Cebrero, 1500 meters above sea level, in the province of Castilla y Leon. I ran into a guy who seemed to be quite the athlete. At that point on the mountain, I was unable to continue biking. I had to get off and push my bike up. The guy came over and offered to help push my bike. I looked at him, unaccustomed to having a stranger offer help out of nowhere. I almost asked him why, but then, I really did need help.

Now there are two things that surprised me about this moment. The first was how this guy knew that I really did need help. The second was how utterly selfless his move was.

After living in North American cities, you do get to be more hesitant about trusting just anyone with valuable possessions.

But, this wasn’t North America, and this guy wasn’t just anyone. He was a fellow pilgrim.

After almost 30 minutes of him pushing my bike uphill, I asked if I could take over. To my third surprise, he replied, “No, you have done enough. You look tired. I will push your bike to the top.”

We arrived at the top of the mountain, went to a restaurant and I even had to argue with him to at least let me pay for his meal.

I’m much more accustomed to people turning away when they see a homeless person on the street corner or someone who needs help. People who don’t hold doors open for others or give up their subway seat for the elderly. I’m used to people being so self-absorbed that they have no idea what a difference they can make with even the smallest act of kindness. And, after working in the competitive world of marketing agencies, I’ve been on the receiving end of backstabbing and betrayal where people will do anything to get ahead.

But there is so much more to be gained through simple acts of kindness.

Takeaway: Concentrate on the things that make us all human together, rather than the things that make us separate. Look for sameness to connect, not difference. We are all so much more than our religion, culture or gender. We can relate on many levels if our eyes are open to them.  

 

Original Article is on ThriveGlobal