by Ethan Paquet
Avery Arsenault is an Aviation Systems Technician with the Canadian Armed Forces, where she is responsible for servicing, repairing, and maintaining their fleet of CT-114 Tutor turbojets used in the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, also known as the Snowbirds.
She recently spoke at the Atlantic Canada Aerospace & Defence Association (ACADA) Sea to Sky 2023 conference in Summerside, sharing her career journey, encouraging those entering the aerospace industry to consider jobs in the military, and offering advice to youth who are beginning to explore their career options.
“I hope to help people adopt a new perspective of this industry,” she says. “Aerospace is huge, and if someone has an interest in it, it’s really important they know all the options so they can find the right fit.”
High school course sparked her career interest
Avery first became interested in airplanes while she was a student in junior high when she saw the Snowbirds at an air show. When she later toured Three Oaks Senior High, she was excited to learn about their aviation course. “I saw the Aerospace classroom and I thought it was pretty neat that they had a class for that. I decided I was going to take it when I started Grade 10.”
The class material taught her the technical side of aviation, but it was the teacher who inspired her to consider it as a career option, she says. “He explained everything so well and talked a lot about his own experiences. I enjoyed the class so much that I took it again the next year. When I was in Grade 12, I knew I wanted to do something in this industry.”
After meeting with a school counsellor to discuss how her courses could lead to a career and considering advice from her teacher, she turned her focus to the Canadian Armed Forces. “I learned that they don’t require prior education or experience and that they were willing to pay me while I was getting trained, so I knew that was my best option because I didn’t have much saved for school.”
Life in the military
She enlisted right away and basic training started in September 2017 in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. “It taught me a lot of technical and life skills. The training included a classroom portion, drill, field training, physical training, weapons training, first aid, and more.”
From there, she enrolled in the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering in Borden, Ontario, which helped develop her aircraft mechanical skills. When she graduated in 2019, she immediately began her service with the Snowbirds, starting as an Apprentice before working her way to Journeyman.
This year, she became an A Level Technician. “Our team has 80 military members in roles such as Support Maintenance, Supply, Logistics, and Management. They have high levels of skill, professionalism, teamwork, discipline, and dedication. They inspire the pursuit of excellence wherever they go in North America.
“What makes this the right job for me is the variety. We take care of the airplanes, we travel with the team, and we fly in the airplanes. I get to experience a lot of different things, and it is very exciting.”
Connecting with youth
Avery says companies need to connect with students to inform them of the opportunities within their industry. “It’s important that youth know their options. By having companies advocate to them in junior high and high school, or even younger, students will get the seeds planted in their heads and can learn more about careers that stand out to them and where they might fit.”
Her advice to students who are considering their career options is to research the industries on PEI and to make connections early on. “If you have an interest in something, it is really important to look at all your options and see where you might fit. Don’t be shy to contact people and ask questions to find your answers. This could dictate your high school, college or university choices.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about careers with the Canadian Armed Forces, visit www.forces.ca