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Meel Molly Valdez, Second Year Apprentice at the Sheet Metal Institute, Portland, Oregon.

What led you to choose a career in sheet metal?

My father, who is also a fellow Sheet Metal worker, and I have always shared a close bond. Throughout my upbringing, he served as a great example, demonstrating that having a successful career in something you enjoy is genuinely possible. I cherished the moments when he would enthusiastically show me the buildings he crafted in downtown Portland. The thrill of experiencing the hustle and bustle on job sites when he brought me along made it clear to me that following in his footsteps was only natural.

What career path were you on before?

Before joining the union, I spent a year in nonunion HVAC, and earlier, I worked in reception.

Why did you choose a career in the Sheet Metal Industry?

I am an artistic person, favoring hands-on learning and the joy of creation. Given my family’s history in Sheet Metal work, I was certain that this was the path I was destined to pursue.

Where do you work now and what are your career goals for the future?

I currently work at MacDonald Miller. My goal is to journey out and become a foreperson.

What would you say to others to encourage them to consider a career in Sheet Metal?

The Sheet Metal Industry is so versatile. You don’t have to fit the stereotypical image of a big burly guy to thrive in it. Whether you’re crawling in duct or in a crawlspace, working on top of the tallest buildings in town, engaging in behind-the-scenes design work on computers, or fabricating in a shop, the possibilities are endless. There’s a spot for everyone in Sheet Metal, so never be intimidated that you’d only be stuck to one thing. There are so many possibilities for every personality type and body build. 

Are you having fun? 

Absolutely. I finally feel this is where I’m meant to be in life.If you share Molly’s desire for a rewarding career, apply to our apprenticeship program today.  Apply to our program today on our website at

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