BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Last year, Jazzmeica Smith of Buffalo was driving for Amazon and decided it was time for a career change. Today, she's hanging window panels on the sixth floor of ECMC as one of the only women on the job site.
“They’ve been sending me to different sites to get experience. Once I started, I was like wow, why didn’t I start this before?” said Smith.
She's a pre-apprentice through the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters and part of Sisters in the Brotherhood.
Over the past 6 years, they’ve seen more than 100 women come through the program. This year, 15 women in New York State signed up and are now in their third month.
Christina Killourhy lays concrete at North Park Academy in Buffalo. She hit a dead end in her previous career as a brewer.
"I wanted an opportunity to learn and grow and make more money. It’s one of the organizations where you get paid the same amount as men, no matter what, it’s written in your contract,” explained Killourhy.
In four to five years these women will finish the program, with the ability to earn wages ranging from $18-26/hr with benefits, according to the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.
It's still a very male dominated field.
"On job sight right now, I’m the only female working," said Kasandra Miranda, who works at a site on Harlem Road.
But this program is also about making these sites a more comfortable environment for women.
"We’re busting butt! We’re doing this and I’ll be honest guys, sometimes we do it better than you," said Miranda.
To join the program, all you need is to be at least 18, physically able to do labor and have a high school diploma or GED.
Before you apply, they ask that you go to an information session, locally, they’re held on the first Monday of every month at 1011 North Blossom Road in Elma.
“I would say don’t be discouraged. I don’t know how far I can go, but I know right now with all the experience I’ve been gaining, I plan to go far," said Smith.
For more info on becoming an apprentice, click here.