Favourite hobby cashed in to find career success

Today, Scott Danell is a seasoned professional with 22 years’ experience in the skilled trades. But like a lot of other people, he initially thought a university degree was his calling.
“I came from a white-collar family and I did what was expected of me,” says Danell, who enrolled in university right after completing his high school diploma. After two years of university studies, he realized he wanted to do something else.
“I’ve always enjoyed working on machinery as a hobby, so I decided to turn my hobby into my career.” To make that happen, Danell pursued an apprenticeship as an Automotive Service Technician.
During his years as an apprentice, Danell excelled in his trade. A Skills Canada bronze medal winner, Danell later served as a judge in the competition after acquiring his Red Seal certification.
After working with the same automotive repair company for 15 years, Danell felt the time was right to advance his career a little further by exploring other opportunities. He was soon hired by Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) as a crane inspector. The moment he stepped into his new workplace, he could tell he had made the right decision. “There was a real sense of community and teamwork in the shop.”
Open new doors
Danell was one of the few shop employees with Red Seal certification in a trade. A believer in the benefits of continuous learning, he felt it was important for more of his colleagues to become certified, too. CN responded by offering Danell and his colleagues the chance to take a course to prepare them to challenge the Red Seal exam for the trade of Heavy Duty Equipment Technician.
“Taking a course can open new doors for anyone,” he maintains. “It’s an opportunity to expand your skills set and it’s also an insurance policy.”
After successfully completing the preliminary training, Danell and 12 of his colleagues attended a 13-week technical training program to prepare for the Heavy Duty Equipment Technician challenge exam.
The work was intense and demanding. “We were in the classroom eight hours a day, five days a week,” he says, adding that his employer was extremely accommodating throughout the technical training process.
Danell recognized the demands of the program were taking a toll on some of his colleagues. “The course was a huge learning curve for some of the guys and I wanted us all to do well,” he says. So he began tutoring some of his fellow trainees who were having trouble keeping up.
Eventually, all the hard work paid off. Danell and his 12 other classroom colleagues passed the course and went on to successfully challenge the Red Seal certification exam. “My biggest accomplishment was seeing everyone make it; our greatest success was achieving this as a team.”
In September 2014, Danell’s employer held a graduation ceremony for the successful candidates. His fellow graduates decided to honour Danell’s efforts to help his classmates reach their goals by naming him the class valedictorian.
“I was humbled by accepting this title from my colleagues,” he says. “It was a great experience and I’m excited now to be able to mentor others and pay it forward.”
To learn more about challenging an exam, or to become a certified journeyperson, visit the Apprenticeship Manitoba website at manitoba.ca/tradecareers.

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