Rhye Mccorkindale is a Toronto arborist working to ensure the safety of our green spaces through soil remediation, disease evaluation and fertilization.
What is your morning routine?
My routine is to have as little routine as possible. I have to be at work at 6:15 a.m., and all of my equipment is kept in Thornhill. I live in downtown Toronto so it takes 45 minutes to get there in the morning, so I wake up as late as I can, around 5:30 a.m., throw my lunch together, throw on my work clothes, and drive to work. Then I start my job immediately, and stuff a piece of toast in my face.
Tell us about your career path?
I’ve always gravitated towards working in outdoor spaces. I get too squirrelly sitting down. I had a few friends who were arborists that took me out tree climbing. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing in my career life, so thought that I would check out the field. I applied to a few different tree care companies without experience, so people didn’t jump at the opportunity to hire me. I kept applying and then this program that’s subsidized by the Ontario government came up in a job search – a pre-apprenticeship. As an arborist, you have to do an apprenticeship to become certified and it gets you into the Humber North College program, as well as set up with gear. It also sets you up with employers interested in hiring people with no experience for a subsidized rate. So I went through the two-year Humber program and throughout that I was working with an employer so I was able to gain experience. I was with my first employer for a year and half. Then, I had a year where I crushed my hand with a large piece of wood and took three months off, and switched gears to a plant health care position. Now, I’m observing trees for different pests, and disease programs while also fertilizing, and spraying for diseases with soil remediation, which is less hard on the body.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
I’m a particularly small human, and maybe larger women don’t have this issue, but from the time that you start working with men they are immediately sizing you up, like oh you think you’re going to be able to pick up that giant piece of wood, and do this physical thing. It’s a big thing. Men show up with assumed competence. The men act really excited when you can do things because they expect you can’t do anything, and there is assumed incompetence because you’re a woman. I’m the foreman of the crew, and if the client is coming to talk to us about something, or somebody else is coming about tree services, they will never come talk to me first as a woman, which I’ve noticed over and over again.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
I would say, try and be as confident as you can and not take your assumed incompetence personally because you will get that. Work as hard as you can – you have to work your ass off. I also have this theory that women in male-dominated careers have to work five times as hard to level out at the male pace. Get skills that you can use to show your competency, and use your brain more than your body.
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
It’s pretty easy once I get home to separate the two, because it’s not a field that you get personally invested in because you’re working on jobs that you finish that day. I work a lot by myself. The only trouble is that I’m out of the house for 16 hours a day, so I’m too exhausted to feel like I can have a personal life until the weekend comes.
What inspires you?
Smart women inspire me. I feel like anyone that’s very passionate about something is extremely inspiring, and people who just know, and figure out how to do things in smart, or innovative ways. I’m always like wow, I keep doing that the same way and you just made that so easy.