Editor’s Note: MASONRY Magazine had the opportunity to hear from Mikayla Wilgosh, a young woman from Ontario who has been working on her apprenticeship. Mikayla completed her pre-apprenticeship program in 2022, and has been working with Integrity Masonry since then. Thank you, Mikayla, for taking the time to talk with us about your experience in the industry.
MASONRY Magazine: Tell me a little about yourself
Mikayla Wilgosh: My name is Mikayla Wilgosh. I’m 23 years old and from Ottawa, Ontario. I work full-time for Integrity Masonry, doing mostly residential work with some commercial as well. I’ve been employed with them since graduating from the OMTC pre-apprenticeship program in 2022.
M.M.: How did you get into the masonry industry?
M.W.: I started out in masonry by taking the OMTC pre-apprenticeship program at La Citè. I applied to the program after living in Perth for a year. Seeing all the heritage stone buildings inspired me to consider a career working with and repairing stone. I’m a very creative person, and some of my greatest achievements have come from hands-on work, so masonry seemed like a good choice. Now looking back, I’m happy I took the risk.
M.M.: Have you competed in competitions before?
M.W.: I have not competed in any competitions before. When my skills are more fine tuned, I’d certainly love to give it a shot.
M.M.: Do you have a mentor?
M.W.: I’m very grateful to be surrounded by great masons both in my crew and on some commercial jobs I’ve done. One person that stands out the most to me and whom I consider my mentor is Tessa Ferzli. I’m incredibly lucky, as a woman in this industry, to learn such a difficult trade from another woman. She pushes me to be the best I can be and to believe in myself. I know I’ll reach my full potential by learning from her and my boss Nick Ford who is another mentor of mine.
M.M: What are your goals in the industry?
M.W.: For the time being, my short-term goals are to gain knowledge and skill to advance in my apprenticeship. But one day, as a long-term goal, I’d like to be in a management position of some kind. I’d love to have the opportunity to teach new apprentices and be a strong female role model in a male-dominated industry.
M.M.: What has been your favorite experience so far?
M.W.: One of my favorite experiences so far was getting to represent my company at the OCA construction symposium & trade show. I got to meet so many cool people in the trades, and I also had the opportunity to teach children from different schools about masonry. More specifically, how to lay bricks. You’d be surprised how many were quite skilled without having experience.
M.M.: What keeps you motivated?
M.W.: The diversity in my day-to-day routine keeps things fun and refreshing. Doing mostly residential work, we tend not to be stuck on the same job site for longer than a week on average. There’s also lots of work and opportunity in the masonry industry. Lots of potential for personal growth and growth for my company. Another thing that keeps me motivated is being a potential inspiration for other women looking to join a trade. To help pave the way for others in the future.
M.M.: Do you work in the industry now? If so, tell me about it.
M.W.: Yes, I do. My routine consists of helping set up and tear down job sites, general labor and going where I’m needed. We divide and conquer at integrity masonry. My favorite time is when I get to be on the wall jointing up or laying stone.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone interested in joining masonry?
M.W.: My advice would be to know what you’re getting into and persevere. Don’t give up on yourself. This is very rewarding work, but it’s also very demanding mentally and physically. Some days will be hard in the beginning, but once you survive it, you’ll be laughing. Masonry is a dying trade, and we’re in demand. There will always be work for masons, and you’ll have a skill under your belt most people don’t have.
M.M.: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
M.W.: If you like working with your hands, gnarly farmers’ tans, and being absolutely shredded, then masonry would be a really good option for you! All jokes aside, I’d like to say that anyone can be a mason if you’re willing to work hard enough. I’d love to see more women in masonry, and if I’ve inspired even one person out there to consider this as a career path, I’m super happy.