By Ashley Shickler,
Maddy Baca, the president of Women Advancing in Technology and Trades (WATT) and a construction management technologies major, said WATT is trying to get their name out there so more students will have the opportunity to advance in their careers.
According to their mission statement, this club has a goal to empower women and men who pursue non-traditional careers. W.A.T.T. offers networking opportunities, access to resources, and a chance to help more individuals to enter trade occupations.
When the group was created, it was specifically for women because women are the smallest minority in the trade industry, and that was changed to include men as well in the middle of 2018 so they could recruit more members, Baca said.
“At the time we didn’t realize that several males were also having trouble converting from the education into the workplace because of lack of experience,” Baca said.
The thing that holds people back a lot is most companies are looking for three to five years of experience prior to going in, Baca said.
WATT is not planning on changing the name because they like how it cleverly fits with the unit of electricity the light bulbs are measured in, Baca said.
“The club’s culture is mellow but professional like when we interview or do anything pertaining to the group, we make sure to follow up with people, respond back, write thank you letters, schedule and confirm appointments,” Baca said.
WATT does a lot to promote their organization such as informational interviews, fund raisers, and community outreach, she said.
In 2018, HB and Sony Construction came in and they talked to WATT’s HVAC, construction, electrical, and mechanical students, Baca said.
They told the club what could be expected from the corporate world and the culture within the companies, the type of experiences they expect from incoming students, and how the students can prepare themselves for the transition, Baca said.
“We’re a bunch of student kids that are learning about every opportunity we have while having fun and guiding one another,” Baca said.
WATT has appreciation day for engineers and national hug a plumber day, where informational interviews are held and students of a specific trade come in, Baca said.
For community outreach, the club did a little workshop with the Girl Scouts building birdhouses, and working on simple switches with batteries, Baca said.
WATT does two food drive’s a year, one for Christmas and one before the end of summer.
“Summer is the biggest time that young children go hungry because they don’t have school meals, “Baca said.
Last year they hosted an event for international women’s day, which led to Baca being offered a summer internship position, Baca said.
The club would like to have additional events soon, such as bake sales and hands on day in the trades, Baca said.
WATT also has plans to combine different clubs in order to share resources and get their name out there, Baca said.
CNM has an electrical club that we are talking to about possibly joining, in order to share resources, Baca said.
WATT came across another new organization called Women in Construction, Baca said.
“Women in construction’s goals are similar to the ones I have tried setting up with CNM, so as we continue to connect maybe we can have not only a student-based organization but potentially an out-research organization as well,” Baca said.
A lot of these industries see students with no experience, and they think it’s a high risk to hire them, Baca said.
Any trade is already a high-risk environment, so Baca understands the need for experience, Baca said.
“However, by meeting all these potential employers, we’re trying to mend the bond of creating internships so that way we can get more students involved in the community so when they do graduate, they have at least two years’ experience in an industry opposed to just going in empty handed,” Baca said.
There are a lot of trade students, the demand for the industry is high, and there are several trade classes being offered at CNM, Baca said.
Baca has been the president for a year in a half, oversees finances, budgeting, fundraising events, reaching out to guest speakers, and following up with them, while maintaining professionalism, Baca said.
Baca found out about the club from Jennifer Klecker, the founder, club’s staff sponsor, and an instructor for a class that teaches resources specifically for trade students, Baca said.
Baca says she’d be happy with twenty members, as the club only has a vice president, club sponsor, and treasurer, Baca said.
Our overall goal is to mend the gap between the career world and the education world, Baca said.
“We want everyone to feel welcome, and have a place and open book to resources,” Baca said.
To find out more information, email Maddy Baca at Mbaca345@cnm.edu or Jennifer Klecker at Jklecker@cnm.edu.