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Mike Oostenbrink Reveals The Opportunities That Skilled Trades Careers Can Offer

1. What made you decide to pursue a career in the skilled trades?

Coming out of high school, I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My dad suggested working for a year to think about it and to start working in some sort of trade. This way, if I ended up deciding not to go to post-secondary, I would have a head start on pursuing a trade. With this in mind, I applied at a company that my brother in law worked for and started apprenticing as a machinist. After working for about 6 months, I ended up loving the job so much that I decided to continue throughout the apprenticeship.


2. What field do you work in and what do you enjoy the most about your job?

I started my apprenticeship as a machinist back in 2007 and worked in the oil and gas industry. Since completing my apprenticeship at NAIT in Edmonton, I was offered a job as a Technical Sales Representative for Sandvik Coromant. The job allows me to use the skills that I have gained throughout my apprenticeship to solve problems for other machine shops. Having my machinist ticket made it a natural progression into my new job.

The part of the job that I enjoy the most is the problem solving aspect.


3.   What skills are required to be successful in this field?

I think one of the most important skills required to be successful in this field is attention to detail and planning. Some of these parts can get pretty intricate and you have to be methodical about your approach.


4.   Do you have any mentors or people that have encouraged and inspired you throughout your career?

I had the same boss throughout my entire apprenticeship and it has always been in a small shop atmosphere. This gave me lots of one-on-one training and mentoring with him. From day one, he encouraged me to be the best machinist I could be. I think that the confidence he had in me helped create my own confidence in the trade. I continued to grow as a machinist while working for him.


5. What advice would you give to youth who are looking to pursue a career in the skilled trades?

With most skilled trades, you will work ten months and go to school for two months every year. My advice to anyone looking to pursue a career in the skilled trades is to work hard those two months you are in school and learn as much as you can from the people around you. Use the teachers and peers to look for different views on how they are successful at their job. Doing this will give you new ideas and make you stand out when you go back to work.

Another thing to think about is that you never know what doors will open up through a trade. I would have never had the opportunity to work for a worldwide company without getting my machinist ticket first.


Mike Oostenbrink
Technical Sales Representative

Sandvik Coromant Canada

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