Meet Charmelle Robinson
Charmelle Robinson, 23, from Houston, TX, graduated from Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center – Houston campus (TWSTC) this month. Charmelle was among the first class to graduate from the Welding Specialist program at Houston campus.
Thanks for your time Charmelle; what made you choose welding as a career?
The stability; the fact that your employment is pretty much based on your skills. If you’ve got good skills and a good attitude, you shouldn’t have to worry about losing your job. But honestly it was the potential salary that drew me in to it. I was a fire watch safety attendant, and that just wasn’t paying the bills. As an attendant I was around welders all the time. I’m a visual learner; I watched them work and thought to myself “I could do that!” It was time for a new challenge.
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What did you know about welding before enrolling at TWSTC?
I’d never touched a welding torch in my life, so I went into it not knowing if I was going to be any good, or even like it at all. It was a little bit of a risk I guess; I’m not a big gambler but I’m always willing to bet on myself. But it was a risk that paid off; it worked out really good for me. As I got a little bit deeper into the program I found a love for welding, especially TIG. That’s my favorite process; I’m really good at all the processes equally, but the one that I enjoy most is TIG.
What is it about TIG welding that you love?
It’s definitely the cleanest process; I love that. Also the creativity, the colors. Once you’ve finished your weld, and you look at it and the colors – it’s beautiful. You can be proud of something you’ve built.
What made you choose TWSTC?
My aunt really encouraged me because TWSTC is right by her home; in fact she tried to get her son to enroll there. She told me that welding would be a great field for me, especially as a woman. She said I’d stand out because there aren’t that many women in welding!
She really supported me from beginning to the end. I had a little skepticism from my mom, you know, but it all turned out for the best. My mom’s really proud of me now, she was proud of me during the program once she saw that I’d stuck to my guns and did it.
How was it being part of the first class to move through the program?
Going to TWSTC was a really good experience; it was really well thought out. At some points things got a little shaky (as we were the first class), but everything went great overall. There are always going to be little teething problems when you start something new I guess, but we all got through it together and it worked out good. I’m glad I chose it. I’m in a whole better place now than I would have been had I decided not to go to Tulsa Welding School.
You graduated 10 days ago, are you working yet?
I got a job a yesterday with Turner Industries! I went to orientation today and I start full hours tomorrow. I’m really happy about that. The orientation today was great; I love the environment. It’s seems really laid back, the people seem cool. I think I’m going to like it.
What kind of work will you be doing?
Pretty much pipe welding using the TIG process. I’m excited about that!
How did you get the job?
It was through Student Services at the campus. I’m sure I wouldn’t have got this job if it wasn’t for them. They really did what they said they would do, and helped us get work in the field that we want. They invited Turner Industries to come out and talk to the class. I got their information, then sent over my résumé. Toward the end of school they came back out to campus and I did a weld test. They took the pipes back to x-ray and check them, then they called me back and offered me a job.
What will you do with your first paycheck?
First I’m going to pay my car note, and then get some stuff I need! But the next one after that, I’m going start saving! I’m not going to go out a buy a million dollar car, or a $500 pair of shoes! I’m young, no kids, not married, so I’m going to save my money for the future!
One day into your career, where do you hope to be in three years?
I want to get established as a welder here in Houston. I’d like to see myself moving up in the company to a position way higher than I am now over the next three years. But at some point I’d like to travel to different places too; New Zealand, Australia – I know they have a lot of refineries and places to weld down there, maybe England or Ireland too. I can see myself doing that at some point; it’s easier when you don’t have kids or a husband.
And longer term? What would like to do?
Welding for me is a tool to earn and save some good money. In the long term, I’d like to be able to get into the Real Estate business.
What would be your dream job?
My ideal welding job would be some kind of Head Welder that gets to travel the world. I don’t know if there’s a technical name for that job, or even if it exists!
Do you feel you’re on your way to becoming a specialist?
I’m definitely on my way. You only become a specialist with hard work and by gaining experience in your field. But being able to get out in the field so quickly after graduating like I have, I feel that it’s going to come very rapidly for me.
What advice would you give to other women, or to any new student just starting out?
To women considering a welding career I would say don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, or it’s not the right field for you. Keep a positive mind, a positive attitude and go in there, give it all you’ve got and do your best, and show them that you can do it.
It’s a great field, but it’s definitely not for everyone. But if you’re determined and you’re good at what you do, keep at it, get out there and “get your weld on!”
Did you come across any sexism?
My first day in class, one of the male students asked me “What are you doing here?” I told him, “the same reason you’re here I assume, to learn!” I turned out to be better than most of the students in my class. I’d say I was at least in top 3!
What do you do for fun?
I’m an outside person. I like to jet ski, go swimming, mountain biking. I have two dogs, both pit bulls. Ruby is a red nose, Ladybird is a blue. They’re actually chasing squirrels right now as I talk to you.
If you were a millionaire for a day, what would you do?
I’m a pretty humble person so I’d pay my bills and help my family out, but I’d definitely buy me a house in California! That’s where I was born; I lived there until I was three years old but I’ve never been back. I still have a little family there. I’d also book a lot of travel in advance. I’d get it paid for on that one day and take trips around the world for years to come!
Let’s finish with some quick fire questions?
- Football or baseball? Football.
- Ford or Chevy? That’s a difficult one; I guess it would be Chevy.
- Pizza or wings? Pizza.
- Win the lottery or find a perfect job? Win the lottery. If I won the lottery I wouldn’t need a job!
If you’re a TWS graduate and would like to share your success and be an inspiration to others, please email [email protected] to be considered for a Graduate Connection interview, please include details such as your graduation date (month/year), program and campus name (Tulsa/Jacksonville/Houston).