Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I became lost in a sea of Journeymen and Masters of my field and it felt incredible.
In our classes and workshops, we examined our challenges in the classroom as instructors. Luckily, I had the chance to teach one of my own night classes before NTI began, so I had a brief introduction of what was to come. Teaching is an entirely different aspect of our trade, yet it is one that encompasses all of our collective experiences. As instructors, we draw on examples that occur in the field to aptly illustrate the theories and concepts that are covered in our books. It takes creativity, imagination and humor to keep a class going strong, not to mention the vast depths of knowledge and understanding of the material to be covered. It's challenging and fun.
I met other apprentices who had recently "topped out" and were chosen as their Local Union's "Outstanding Apprentice". We exchanged stories and learned about all the differences between the various geographical regions throughout our National JATCs. It was inspiring to feel a part of something much larger than yourself, working toward common goals and being together in the struggle. (This is a recurring theme I have felt throughout all of my exposure to the organizations behind the electrical industry.) I hope to maintain the connections to these other "newbies" so that we can help one another navigate through all this new territory, together.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I am thankful and grateful and proud to announce that as of June 1st 2011 (that's today), I am no longer an Apprentice Wireman with Local 26 -- my dues receipt now says Journeyman Wireman! What an accomplishment. Looking back, I still remember starting out in this program... the apprehension, the proving of wit and skill, the meeting new people, the not-knowing, the anxiety before a test, the grades, the nights at school that seemed endless sometimes, learning of new terms and words that only make sense to other electricians... and more recent memories... the meeting new people and the long conversations with old friends, the "shop talk", the comparing of notes about this job and that, the extension of skills and knowledge to others just starting out, recognizing that blank look when you say "I need 10 lamps" and finally giving in to say "yes, 10 bulbs". :D
Five years is indeed a long time, but MAN! The satisfaction of finishing is like nothing else. When I bump into fellow apprentices who will be walking across that stage with me on Saturday, there's a little glimmer in our eyes that communicates it all. No need to go on and on, because we all know it deep down inside. We're proud of what we've learned, all that we've been through, and we can all say "It's been a heck of a ride!"
These days at work, I'm still learning: that I must embrace my codebook to size things right the first time; how to balance the energy levels of my crew... motivate when necessary, antagonize for fun, have teaching moments when we can; how not to blow my top when it's really not necessary; how to keep an eye on falling levels of various material that my guys need; how best to prioritize multiple projects that all have very close deadlines. Now that's a far cry from learning to identify: 1/4-20x3/4" bolts, 1/4" fenders, 3/8" flats and the fact that "strut" is also another name for "kindorf" or "C-channel". Yes, we've come a long way!
Congratulations to every one of my peers, and here's a toast to the next chapter!
Sunday, April 24, 2011
These are exciting times.
What makes it all the more exciting is that there are so many opportunities ahead. There is no such thing as feeling like union construction is a "dead-end" job. Not only are there a variety of work responsibilities out in the field, like being a sub-foreman, foreman, service truck electrician, superintendent, project manager, estimator, or company owner, but there's also the behind-the-scenes individuals who work hard to keep everyone moving. The instructors at the school, the administration of the JATC, all the personnel and leadership at the Local Union Hall... the list goes on.
Very exciting times.
When we all gathered in a group for these photographs, I was overwhelmed with a sense of pride and dignity. It was a struggle for many to get through these five years, and yet we made it. Through personal sacrifice and diligence, we stood together, hundreds strong. We congratulated each other and shared a few moments of joy, suited up and posing for the camera. And whether or not others will admit it, I know for a fact I was not alone in feeling that pride in our accomplishments.
Monday, January 17, 2011
I was amazed at the amount of familiar faces that I saw, mostly from the Women's Conference last year. Additionally, I met my talented brothers and sisters from across the country, ranging from LA to Houston to Long Island, and of course NY. I saw people young and old, apprentices, journeymen and retired members who have remained active. I saw the type of diversity amongst our faces that I dream one day will represent the IBEW on a full scale.
Personally, I made new friends from across our lands who have similar objectives for the well-being of our Union. I have found hundreds of individuals who have different answers, opinions and perspectives that have helped me in my personal struggle and goals. There is a cohesion that exists through a tapestry of wisdom and skills that I feel many of our Local's members don't even know about.
I am also excited to announce that there is a strong effort to promote the cause of our Young Workers in the IBEW. Over the last few months, a few of us at Local 26 have been working on the formation of ARC-DC, Apprentices Reaching our Community. We have learned a great deal about our organization on a grander scale, and have faced challenges and hurdles that are not unique to us alone. If I learned anything from these conferences it is that we are not alone. There is a growing wave of support that exists from the AFL-CIO down through our IBEW and regionally that tells me that solutions can be shared and we can learn from the many successes of our brothers and sisters everywhere.
I am honored to have been a part of something larger than myself. I hope to bring a sense of urgency and pride back to my brethren and share in the insights that have inspired me.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Day-school (lower-classmen time) was filled with anxiety. Week by week, our stipend checks depended on the ability to pass a test. All spare time was spent either studying material or being worried about whether or not the material stuck in our brains. There was little time or energy to consider other aspects of the trade -- what the future may hold, or what options are available, how the organization as a whole works, what benefits we have as employed members, etc. Least of our concerns was how to give back to the very community that has been bolstering us up through these years.
Then came night-school (upper-classmen time). A HUGE breath of relief. No more tests! Yes, attendance still counts, but that's easy enough, considering all else we've been through. The freedom to choose what courses are important to us on an individual level helps tremendously in the realm of being interested in the material -- learning for the sake of learning. The release from the grip of anxiety is so sweet, and frees us to open the field of vision and see all else that surrounds us.
Now, as I look forward to these next few weeks, I see that my realm has opened so far and wide, that my time is being filled with activities that do give back to my community. Volunteer opportunities arise, simply through the few connections I've made so far, and by being present and available. With service does come a sense of value and fulfillment that is matched by no other, and I am thankful for every opportunity that arises.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
On the classroom front, I've been having a lot of fun with my current exploits. I'm in the Trade Teaching course, which is designed to teach apprentices and journeymen how to take the lead; on the job and in the classroom. We've thus far covered the concept of public speaking and presentational materials. My most recent class focused on Power Point Presentations and we even had some lab time with the computers. Our first task is to design a five minute presentation on whatever subject we like. I thought it would be simple, seeing as how it's only five minutes long. But therein lies the problem -- it's only five minutes long! Five minutes goes by in a blink of an eye. Surprisingly, I found that I still needed to prepare an outline before designing the final presentation. Quite a bit of time goes into these slideshows, and if you're a perfectionist about visual elements, then it's entirely too easy to fall down the bunny hole. Thursday we present. Fun fun!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
In the meanwhile, I just received my confirmation of which evening course I'll be attending this upcoming semester -- Elements of Trade Teaching. I'm looking forward to this class immensely; I've really appreciated all the skills and knowledge this trade has given me, and I can't wait to pay it forward.
And even though this hot, hot summer has brought forward bountiful harvests for me (think tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, cucumber, watermelon and numerous herbs) I'm glad for things to finally be winding down. It's hot out there!