Just before the economy took a turn for the worse in 2009, Echo Dahl moved to Portland from Arizona, to put her bachelor’s degree in Architecture to work. Unfortunately, what she encountered was a lay-off followed by five years of searching for work. While unsuccessful in finding a job, she was determined to make it on her own, and as a way to make ends meet, she bartended part time and was able to persist by living off the tip money she earned as well as some public assistance.
Echo first heard about OTI at a job fair she attended but the timing was not right because she had just given birth to her son, Onyx. She never lost the thought of a career in the trades, though, and Echo returned to OTI a couple years later – after she made the decision to pursue a career as a carpenter. She was hopeful that she would make more money than the $37,000 per year she was once able to earn in architecture.
After graduating from OTI’s Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class in 2013, Echo knew she would need a car in order to get to and from job sites, she made the somewhat difficult decision to give up her apartment and move in with her mother so she could use her damage deposit and tax return to buy a car.
“OTI was instrumental in my new career”
Echo now works as a project engineer for Pavillion Construction. She supports the project manager and superintendent on job sites. She was able to reach her goal of earning $60,000 a year just four years after starting OTI’s pre-apprenticeship class. When asked how OTI has helped her get to where she is today she said, “OTI was instrumental in my new career. I worked as an architecture intern and never knew my current position existed until OTI sent me on my first interview. This role essentially mirrors my old position with the (architecture) firm but it’s MUCH more fun. I get to be on site, see the construction happen, and be involved. And it PAYS better!!”
Echo was totally inspired by the trainers at OTI and her fellow tradeswomen during the TAC program. When asked what advice she would have for other women who are considering work in the trades, she said, “I tell anyone who will listen that the trades are a much smarter route than college. My college education helped me get where I am today, but if I had pursued carpentry out of high school, I could have reached the same goal while making much more money along the way and without the 50k in debt that will forever be my albatross.”
“I went from an unemployed single mom living in an apartment just barely making it to a successful mom with a new house and a great job. I’ve finally reached all my big goals after many years of struggling. OTI made that happen.”
Echo’s future career aspirations include becoming a superintendent or project manager. She is thankful for finding OTI during a time in her life when she was searching for a new path. In her own words, “I went from an unemployed single mom living in an apartment just barely making it to a successful mom with a new house and a great job. I’ve finally reached all my big goals after many years of struggling. OTI made that happen.”