Full name: Riley Hildebrand, Skills Canada Yukon alumni
Trade: Heavy equipment, truck and transport technician
Current workplace: Yukon Energy
What motivated you to get into this career?
As a kid, I always enjoyed taking things apart and figuring out what makes them “tick.” Finding ways to make them work better or perform different functions than originally intended. Turns out a career as a heavy equipment technician allows you to get paid to do just that.
Was there someone who got you excited about this path?
My dad has always been a huge inspiration. From handing him wrenches and holding the flashlight just right for him while working on his truck when I was just a little fella, he was the guy who really sparked my interest in becoming a mechanic.
Was there a class in secondary school that helped you be more proficient at the work you do now?
I took mechanics class and sled ed as well as intro to trades at Vanier Secondary School with Mr. Tait. I was able to learn a lot from Russ and then apply those skills in a workplace environment during the intro to trades course. That’s when it kicked in that a career in trades was a perfect fit.
What was it like to go to post-secondary school and work at the same time?
It was an amazing experience. I received a great amount of support from my employers and from Yukon Government’s Department of Education to enable me to get my Red Seal certification. That is one of the things that I don’t think enough young people today realize about the trades. The fact that you can be earning money all the way through earning your ticket gives you a real leg up. Whether you’re fresh out of high school or are looking into trades later in life, the apprenticeship program allows you to get your trade without breaking the bank. And with all the programs and great instructors at Yukon College, you don’t have to leave your family and home to get an education that leads to a rewarding career.
What is the best part of being in your trade?
I really enjoy going home at the end of the day knowing I’ve put my skills to work, solved problems and, most importantly, kept the lights on!
What does a regular day look like for you in your job?
A regular day? Never had one. That’s what I like about my job. One day I could be troubleshooting issues with a modern natural gas engine and the next could involve crawling into a hydro turbine performing inspections. It puts all areas of my trade to the test and pushes me to become a better technician every day.
If you met someone who was looking at getting a job in the trades, what piece of advice would you give them?
I would say that a career in the trades is by no means a “last resort.” It is a great career path with so many opportunities and a Red Seal certification in the trades can allow you to work all over the country and the world.
How has your trade made your life better?
My trade finds its way into many aspects of my life outside of work. It’s given me a critical eye for why and how things work around me instead of things working “just because.” Plus it has taught me that getting mad at inanimate objects doesn’t help solve any problems.
What is the most interesting thing/project you have worked on?
Being involved in the overhauls of the natural gas engines has been my favourite project so far. Tearing into a massive, high-tech, precision engine like that is just really darn cool.