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IBEW Apprentices Share Their Experiences on ‘Get Charged Up’ Blog

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Young electricians making their way through the NECA-IBEW apprenticeship program have been sharing their experiences via a blog that allows those interested in a potential career in the trades to hear directly about this transformative process.  The apprentices’ blogs, part of the Get Charged Up website, gives apprentices an opportunity to make their voices heard and encourage others to follow the same path.  The blog is written by apprentices with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 26 which covers parts of Maryland and Virginia.  

This collection of student blogs has writers at varying levels of advancement.  For some, such as first-year student Kareem Stromann, blog posts revolve around the influx of knowledge and experience new apprentices receive at the beginning of their journey:

…I am in my 7th month of my apprenticeship and I can truly say that I have a new found respect for the electrical field and the apprenticeship.  I have learned that there is a lot more to the electrical field then just outlets, switches, and lights. So far I have been with one company, but I have had the opportunity to work on multiple projects.  On these projects  I have meet several knowledgeable journeymen and foremen’s and have been introduced to various aspects of the electrical field.

I came into the apprenticeship with no field experience and within seven months I gained experience in: Pulling cable, labeling homeruns, running conduit, building racks, running fire alarm wire, testing fire alarm systems, troubleshooting fire alarm systems, creating whips, hanging light fixtures, installing switches and outlets.
And the list can go on.

Third-year student Michael Gerrick gives insight into what it is like in the middle of your apprenticeship, a period when you move from job site to job site honing the skills learned at the beginning of the apprenticeship:

I’ve certainly had a change of pace in the last few months. I had been at a site in Gaithersburg, MD when I was moved to Reston, VA for just two weeks. While in Reston I spent my time troubleshooting lighting circuits and laying out and installing light fixtures. From that brief stay, I was then for a short time moved back to a different site in Gaithersburg. Here a group of four of us spent a week doing preventative maintenance work by preparing all the panels, disconnects, crack units, motor control centers and more in the building to be thermal imaged. This allows potential problems areas to be identified before any issues would arise that would cause an unscheduled disruption in power that would threaten the type of work taking place. During that time we were able to identify four or five hotspots that were in need of maintenance. I was able to gain a better appreciation for the work we were doing because at the same time in school we were reviewing power quality issues with this type of work being one of the topics. This gave me a chance to really relate and understand all aspects of what we were doing and why is was necessary.

From Gaithersburg I was transferred to my current site in Washington, DC. For the past month and a half I’ve been working in an apartment building trouble shooting, installing lights, and finishing out floors. Despite the traffic and the few hours added to my day, it’s been an okay job site. This is the most jobs I’ve ever been to with a single contractor and with it wrapping up in a few weeks it looks like my jumping around isn’t finished yet.

Then there’s the home stretch, and the blog is as much a tool to celebrate hard earned skills as it is to educate about apprenticeship’s positive potential. Fifth-year student Michael Baldwin used the blog to announce that he had achieved the certification he had been working towards:

Well I am proud to say as of Saturday I am officially Nicet level II certified. I actually decided about 2 years ago that I would get my Nicet certification around this time to make myself more employable in the field. It feels good to follow through with a plan successfully. Originally I just planned to take the level I with just my knowledge I obtained in the field as a 2nd year apprentice. When I went to sign up for classes Rich gave me a little different prospective and talked me into taking the level one class. The first day my teacher opened my eyes a little wider explaining to us that to really be taken serious we would be better off obtaining our level II certification. So after 12 sessions of vigorous training and a little procrastination I finally got my application together. I tell you what I’m glad Rich talked me into taking the class because the Level I exam was no joke. It was actually heavy in code and level of involvement definitely took me by surprise. After the test I was relieved that I passed but I thought to myself if this what the level I is like I’m scared to see what level II consist of. I set my test up so that they were a day apart so that I could take the first test and have time to take in the layout of the exam and prepare myself for the level II. Well when the day finally came I was presently surprised. The level II in my opinion was actually easier than the first exam. It felt like there were a lot more questions based on my previous field knowledge and finished the test with plenty of time to spare. Once I finished and was handed my results I was still a little nervous to see the outcome, so I took a deep breath slowly opened up the folded paper and moon walked my way out the test center in joy. So thank you Rich for your advice and thank you Sal for teaching and preparation. Now on to the next.

Have a look at the rest of the Get Charged Up posts here.


7 Comments on “IBEW Apprentices Share Their Experiences on ‘Get Charged Up’ Blog”

  1. you will be lied to , over worked , and owe money for endentured training if you fail to comply with the apprenticeship terms..

    construction project management will use you up and lay you regularly .

    if you average 8 months of work a year consider your self lucky …

    we need more work and less apprentices!

    stop this vicious cycle of hiring short time and lay offs.

  2. the ibew needs to bring back the goon squads.

    you know what i mean. we need to talk with our handS.

    enough of this worthless voting nonesence .

    them contractors and formen are out of control .
    there aint enough justice ,in the locals.

    them good old boys keeping there,lame worthless friends working and you will starve ..

    you need two differents types of jobs to make it in the ibew ..

  3. them ,people wiley and hill know there stuff.

    construction project management in collution with ibew leaders have made a work model that does not help the worker !

    this feast or fammin never ending cycle must stop.

    the title journeyman is because you travel to many jobs of unknown duration.

    a truer name should be itenerant wondering worker ,always looking for the next job . living hand to mouth.

    all them benifites if you get or allowed to work 2000 hours a year!

    there has been and still is plenty of dirt that diffinitly neeeds cleaning between both management and the ibew.

  4. too many apprentices , do the rank and file agree THEY NEEED that many PER CREW ?

    layoff , age discrimination,
    size discrimination. any reason to remove a none good buddy and keep a cronie working !


    fat business manager gets paid when many are layed off at 3 x general formans wage ..

  5. livable yearly wage !!

    read ,remember the deffinition of that word.

    now let the ibew digest that phrase LIVABLE YEARLY WAGE.

    enough nonsense of struggling for hours that are untenable.
    ibew needs additional words in there contracts ,
    people dont want to work part time indeffinatly due to contractors and project managements scheams .
    the looming LARGE lay-off.
    when the lights of on the lay off comes,
    do we all remember that ..

    compleation for a phase means a lay off is comming to bear..

    keep on shouting there are not enough workers , try to convince the suspect labor force and make more apprentices to over flood the jobs.
    more workers less job security .
    more workers good for contractors .
    more worker less chance to work for each..

  6. I’m a first year and I haven’t done any work but pack mule. I have to prop up a hungover alcoholic journeyman all day, which is wonderful being in recovery myself. I’m 7 months in and I don’t know anything about electricity, I just move heavy equipment up and down stairs all day.

    We were told IBEW were the “elites” of the trades union world, but their package is comparatively mediocre, less than the Carpenters in my area. Less than many trades. And the journeymen do not work steady at all. They starve, really something to look forward to after 5 years of being utterly subordinate.

    Unions are the only way to go, but we have to be able to do better than this.

  7. forman are tools of management .

    forman selection allows them to jump the book !

    us workers must become hyper-belligerant
    and be ready to take fast action against these rulers- what ever it takes !!!

    these foman get boneses for the wip they use on the workers.

    a layoff or firing is a financial ruination- death sentence .

    a J-W could become black listed by a company and the BA is no help at all on the job or at the HALL.

    worthless state certifications and dreams of traveling to work other locals are a nightmare..

    hall bum vs gobbler — swallower – crony – good buddy -nepotism in the workplace .

    it’s mighty ugly out there.

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