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VWW Graduates 15th Trailblazers Cohort

by Jillian Scannell

Trailblazers graduates pose holding their graduation certificates from the trades training program.


In early May, Vermont Works for Women graduated our 15th Trailblazers cohort in South Burlington, Vermont. Trailblazers is our free, seven-week trades training program for women and gender-expansive individuals ages 18+.

Throughout the program, participants spend time in the shop and classroom learning basic skills in construction, renewable energy, and the trades. In the final three weeks, Trailblazers have the opportunity to complete an on-site internship with a local employer. Of the 15 participants in the class, 13 of them interned with local employers in trades like construction, carpentry, HVAC, and more. At the end of the internships four Trailblazers had job offers, and so far, two have accepted!

We caught up with South Burlington graduate Leigh to learn more about their experience in the program.

Reflections on Trailblazers from a graduate

What were you looking to get out of Trailblazers, and did you get that?

“I wanted to get access to a network of skills, resources, and potential employment opportunities. I believe that I have the resources I need moving forward to transition into the trades. I think the most impactful part of the classes was seeing folks of all different backgrounds and motivation get to learn something new in a comfortable environment.”

How was your internship, are you now considering a trades-related job?

“I’m currently considering entering the HVAC/R Trade after my internship with Control Technologies. The internship was a lot of fun and very interesting – I was able to quit my job in order to focus on it, and am hoping to have a job offer by the end of the week.” Update – Leigh was offered a job with Control Technologies and accepted!

What about the class was impactful for you?

“I think the best part of trailblazers is probably the folks who are brought in to speak and teach – Tammy and Safety Lady Katie stood out as the most memorable, but everyone who visited the classroom taught me something new. I only wish the program was longer!”

Trailblazer, Leigh, uses a miter saw to cut lumber.Traiblazers use VEEP kits to simulate electrifying their own "house"






You can also read about another Trailblazers graduate’s experience interning at Green Mountain Solar on their blog. Christina shared that the highlight of her internship was getting up on a roof.

Other Feedback from Graduates

At the end of the program we ask participants to complete a survey, giving VWW valuable information about their experience – what they enjoyed, what was most impactful, and how they plan to use their skills in the future.

  • “I feel a lot more confident entering into the trades, something that I was really hesitant about before. Getting hands on work, both in the class as well as an internship, was such invaluable experience for. I just so appreciate this opportunity, AND the connection to this organization in the future. I really can see myself shifting to a trades job now!”
  • “I have wanted to get into the trades and didn’t know where to start. Now I have so much direction and feel like there’s a bounty of resources to utilize. Yay!”
  • “I’m more confident with tools and my own ability to figure things out. I feel connected to a wider network of capable and kind people.”

If you are interested in participating in an upcoming Trailblazers cohort, learn more here.


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