A Summer Spent Soul-Searching

A Summer Spent Soul-Searching



August 02, 2017

By Kayleen McCabe, Host of DIY Network’s Rescue Renovation

Where I live in Colorado, summer has a blink-and-you-miss-it urgency.  Winter has ended – finally! – but will be back soon.

Since wrapping up my DIY Network series Rescue Renovation a few years ago, I have spent summers doing three things near and dear to my heart: speaking to young people about the trades (why skilled labor is important, why it’s a respectable career option and how it’s rewarding and lucrative to boot!), tackling custom woodworking projects and planting a massive vegetable garden in my backyard.

Then this summer rolled around, and something felt…different.

I’m still working with young people.  I don’t think that will ever change. Next month I embark on a tour of schools in Maryland and Canada with the Association for Building Contractors and Air Canada.  Then, I am off to Abu Dhabi to cheer on students competing in the WorldSkills Competition – an amazing showcase of the top up-and-coming vocational talent from 76 countries around the globe.

But I’m also heeding a different call this summer and it’s one that’s been stirring in me for a while: the call to pursue more educational training.

I have been a general contractor since 2006, but the more I talk to young people about the importance of specializing, the more I want to practice what I preach.  Maybe I will become an electrician. Maybe I will spend two years in an apprenticeship to become a welder. Maybe I will become an ironworker.

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure.

So this summer, for the first time in years, I’m putting down the drill and the backhoe, planting three tomato plants instead of thirty and letting myself do some soul-searching. Where do I see myself in ten years?  Which specialties are in demand?  How can I weave my next chapter into my ongoing advocacy for the trades?

All of this is a little uncomfortable for me, because I have had a full calendar and a clear vision for the past decade. But I’m embracing it for a few reasons.

For starters, not knowing what’s next gives me a new appreciation for the uncertainty high schoolers and college students (and career-switching adults) feel as they’re trying to figure out what’s next.

Secondly, there’s no need to panic, because when you work in the trades, every educational option is a promising one!  As a nation, we are facing a massive labor gap. It’s scary, but for me and for everyone else embarking on vocational futures, it means that whichever path I choose, jobs await, compensation awaits and most likely, satisfaction awaits.

Deciding what’s next and trusting it is going to be awesome. That’s how I’m spending my summer.