Chloe is a welder working in Joe Gibbs Aerospace (a new division of Joe Gibbs Racing). The Aerospace division was started to help ensure the continued success of the race team, and provide a place where Joe Gibbs Racing employees can continue to thrive in their careers. They are taking their expertise in engineering and manufacturing and are applying that to the commercial and military aerospace sectors.
How did you get into the profession / what inspired you?
I completed my associate’s degree in Applied Sciences at Tri-County Technical College with a major in welding. I began in maintenance at a nuclear power plant, but instead decided to follow a career as a welder. The path I started on wasn’t easy. Usually, on-site there was some initial push-back. But I was lucky enough to have a supervisor or foreman on each job who would believe in me, take me under their wing and teach me. As long as you’re a sponge and are willing to soak up that information, I’ve found they will give you everything you want to know.
Why would you recommend a career in skilled trades?
There is a huge amount of satisfaction that comes with excelling in a trade and completion of projects and using your own two hands and expertise. In every job, take the overtime, take the extra work, ask the questions, and create a reputation for yourself. Reputation is very important in this industry.
What advice do you have for female students who may be considering pursuing skilled trades?
My advice would be not to look at yourself as “the female welder.” Take out the fact that you’re female, and just be one of the employees. Don’t be the best female welder – be the best welder. Pursue excellence – that’s the beauty of trades. The more you practice, the more you do, the better you become.
“Don’t be the best female welder – be the best welder. Pursue excellence – that’s the beauty of trades.”
What’s one misperception that people have about your job?
Welding is not what you see in the movies. It’s such a vast career – you have everything from structural welders, to precision TIG welders, to fabricators, to metallurgy – there are so many different facets to it. And we’re not all dirty! Nothing but titanium is welded in the room where I work, and it’s pristine.
Every aspect of your life includes something that has been welded – if you drive on a road, cross a bridge, use a cell phone – everything has been welded together. I think that if people recognized that, there would be greater respect for tradespeople.
What’s your biggest career accomplishment to date?
I wanted to build airplanes – that was a major thing for me. I’m a huge lover of history and Spitfires. I always wanted to work in aerospace, I always wanted to do precision TIG work, I love the art and practicality. I am one of the lucky ones that got their dream job.
My employer found me through word of mouth, plus saw what I posted on Instagram. They called me up and offered me an interview and a testing process. It’s an incredible responsibility to be part of something that’s in the air and to be responsible for something that keeps people safe.