If most of your job experience has been working in a Saint John auto body shop and you're apprehensive about moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan to be with a significant other, don't worry too much. Grand Rapids is a great place to find jobs in the skilled trades. While you might be put off by the unemployment rate, which is over 15%, even greater than the Michigan average, your skilled trades experience puts you in better position for finding a job than someone who has only white collar experience working in an office.
Grand Rapids' furniture industry got its start in the 1880s because of the plentiful lumber in the surrounding forests, and it remains one of the city's biggest moneymakers to this day. So if you can, while your mates are out learning how to install daylighting, you might take a community college course in wood carving or carpentry if you don't already have relevant experience with furniture making. Metalwork skills will also come in handy here, as a lot of office furniture tends to be made out of metal rather than wood. Five of the biggest furniture making companies in the country have operations here, so your chances are decent of landing a job if you prepare properly. If you aren't prepared, local programs put on by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation may be able to help you.
Since the industrial revolution reached Michigan, manufacturing has been one of Grand Rapid's biggest employment sectors. Many different products are turned out in Grand Rapids factories, from household items like aquarium heaters to major machinery components used in automobiles. Being trained to work in an automated factory is a key factor in getting a job in this industry. Any experience with producing the following products will also boost your chances: plastics, car parts, tools, industrial machinery, appliances, health care products, electronics, food, scientific instruments, and leather.
Michigan's central location to most of America and the most densely inhabited portions of Canada make it an ideal location for storage and shipping of everything from cooling water treatment chemicals to car parts. Ground, rail, deep-water, and air transportation are used to move these products to and from the city, which means that there are significant employment opportunities in this sector. Likely jobs would be skilled positions operating cargo cranes, 18-wheeled trucks, and locomotives and unskilled labor positions offloading boxes.
If you've already completed your course in basic electronic circuit design, have made your move, and are ready to head out with your resumes, the best places to start are often the city's largest employers. For skilled trades people in Grand Rapids, that means your first stop will be Steelcase, a metal furniture making company and the city's third largest employer. Other stops will be Johnson Controls, which makes thermostats, Herman Miller Inc, a maker of home and office furniture, and Alticor, a parent company that owns many different subsidiary manufacturing firms in Grand Rapids. As always, make sure your resume is up-to-date and accompanied by good references.