OTI Alumnae Spotlight: Meet Brooklyn Payne

“OTI gave me the tools, but I did the work!” – Brooklyn Payne


Brooklyn, third from the left, at the 2016 annual OTI Women in Trades Career Fair

Brooklyn grew up in Spokane, Washington. She has a fantastic adventurous spirit that led  her to travel around the United States after high school as well as living in Costa Rica for an extended amount of time. After her travels, she moved to Portland to live near her mother and sister who had relocated to the Rose City while she while she was traveling.

Before starting Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.’s (OTI) Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class (TACC), Brooklyn spent 12 years working as a bartender without benefits like  health insurance that are a common perk in other careers. The highest hourly wage she made in the food and beverage industry was $9.75 an hour. Brooklyn also took college   courses and accrued considerable student debt, but was unable to find the hands-on education she craved.

As Brooklyn entered into her 30’s she wanted a change: she recognized that bartending was a dead end for her and would not provide her with the means to retire some day. She heard about OTI from a friend who had also gone through the TACC program, and kept it in her mind. One day in 2014, she made the decision to commit to her future and officially enrolled in OTI’s pre-apprenticeship training program – she was 34 years old.


“OTI was pivotal for me, and has everything to do with where I am today.”

Just two years later, Brooklyn is now working for Hoffman Structures Inc. as an apprentice carpenter on an exciting new project for Oregon Health and Sciences University. Brooklyn is 80% through her apprenticeship and is currently making $29.75 per hour! She feels great leaving work every day knowing that she is able to take care of herself and that she earned it with hard work and dedication. When asked how OTI helped her get where she is today, she said, “OTI was pivotal for me, and has everything to do with where I am today.” OTI gave her tangible skills, unconditional support, and the confidence to find a career in a field she would not have considered otherwise. But, Brooklyn also recognizes that her own internal drive and motivation to invest in her future played an important role in where she is today: “OTI gave me the tools, but I did the work!”.

“OTI gave me the tools, but I did the work!”.

When asked what advice she would give to other women considering a career in the trades, she enthusiastically replied, “You can do it! It is possible!” She also wisely advised women to keep in mind that although female workers in the trades are still relatively uncommon, any doubts that might be experienced about entering this industry are no different from doubts that would be felt in pursuing any career or career transition. She loves being a woman on the construction site, and has found a sisterhood of support though the local carpenters union.

Future goals for Brooklyn include journeying out as a carpenter, becoming a foreman, and eventually working her way up to superintendent and she has unwavering confidence in her abilities to achieve these goals.

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