News & Updates

News & Updates

ValleyBuild NOW Graduate Pursues Sheet Metal Trade

Raquel Pizana took a big leap of faith when she quit her job to sign up for apprenticeship readiness training in the building and construction trades.

In less than a year, her ValleyBuild gamble paid off. Today, Pizana is a sheet metal pre-apprentice and overjoyed with her change in careers.

“There’s new stuff to learn every day and I love it,” she said.

ValleyBuild NOW graduate Raquel Pizana

Before enrolling in MC3 Apprenticeship Readiness Training – and in the first-ever ValleyBuild NOW (Non-traditional Occupations for Women) all-female cohort – Pizana worked in customer service in a call center.

For about 10 years, she fielded calls from mainly unhappy people. Some weren’t very nice, she said diplomatically.

“I wasn’t very happy at my old job,” Pizana said. “It was taking a toll on me mentally.”

Then last year, a friend told her about the ValleyBuild NOW training cohort. They both signed up. It was a major gamble for Pizana because she had to quit her job to make time for the program.

But the class gave her the chance to learn about and explore many trades. Sheet metal, for example, was a completely new trade to her.

One class project required students to make a tool box. Pizana felt at home with the task, and she and another classmate were honored for making the best tool boxes in the group. Instructor Isaac Camarena was knowledgeable and a big help.

The tool box project and general skills training fueled her interest in sheet metal. “Switching careers, I didn’t know much about unions and the trades,” she said. “They exposed me to everything, basically.”

After graduating from ValleyBuild NOW last fall, Pizana worked in a transitional job before being placed into a pre-apprenticeship. The training was essential in finding her way to the sheet metal trade.

 “I wouldn’t know where to start without the program,” she said.

Since January, Pizana has been working on projects that include the new science building at Fresno City College and the new high school in Sanger. She is especially excited to work on the high school construction because she’s from Sanger.

Pizana also is the only woman in the warehouse. She said ValleyBuild NOW prepared her for the male-dominated environment and that “all the guys who work there are super nice.”

Her 19-year-old son thinks her new job is great – “he’s excited and proud of me,” Pizana said. She often recommends the ValleyBuild program and has given out flyers to people who might be interested.

“You don’t know if it’s for you unless you try it,” she said. “If you’re not satisfied with where you are going – or where you are not going – you should try it.”

She’s glad she decided to take that leap of faith, adding “a hundred times yes, it was worth it.”