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Old 03-14-2008, 07:54 AM   #1
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Need advice on meeting with a local shop


Okay, so I have been wanting to break into the business for a while now, and I have applied with the IBEW for their program, and am on the list... but its a long list and I don't know when I might make it in.

This morning while getting my coffee, I ran into a guy from a local shop. It's one of the bigger shops in the area, non union. We started chatting, and I asked him if they had any kind of apprenteship program and he said ya, and currently they are looking to hire around 10 guys. He said I should just stop by the shop and talk to the owner, who is the brother of the guy I was talking to. He said he would let him know I would be stopping by in the next few days. He asked me what kind of background I had, and I was pretty clear about my abilities. I told him that I have basic knowledge of how electricity works, and just above basic skills when it comes to doing electrical work. He said sounds good, and he hoped to see me around.

So, my questions to the pros here are these:

When I go, even though this guy said to just stop by, should I call and try and make an appointment?

Since this will pretty much be an informal meeting, how should I dress?

I have a friend that used to work in that shop, but I don't know the terms that he left on. Should I bring that up at all? I know when he was there, he was a very valued asset to them, and was there for about 10 years.

Anything that I should point out to them to make myself look good? Community service stuff like being involved with habitat for humanity since I was 15?

Anything that I am not thinking of?

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Old 03-14-2008, 09:20 AM   #2
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Need advice on meeting with a local shop


1) Stop by to make an appointment, you will probably get your interview on the spot if the owner is there.

2) Get a haircut, cover up your tattoos, spit the snuff out,get rid of that stupid earring, and dress as if you were going to work for this guy right after the interview (but clean) and be ready to go to work that day if possible. Most people that like to dress up, don't like to get their hands dirty I've found over the years.

3) Don't be a name dropper

4) Habitat for humanity is OK, but just because it shows you are willing to work with your hands. Don't talk about being on the church council or anything like that.

Here's where the fight will start

I went through a 2 year trade school and then went through the IBEW apprenticeship afterward. I've worked with union and non-union. What I've found is that just a union apprenticeship without trade school is inferior to trades school and an apprenticeship. There is no way that 1 day a week in the classroom can compare to 5 days a week for 2 years for an education. The IBEW apprenticeship will make you very good at code and basic theory, but you won't be as well rounded with electronics, PLC's, drives, ect. For example I had 3 months of PLC training in trade school and 2 weeks in the apprenticeship.
That being said, no trade school and going non-union with no formal apprenticeship is inferior to the IBEW. Alot of the nonunion guys I've worked with are great at construction and hard workers, but a majority of them are severely lacking in electrical theory and troubleshooting skills. Without a firm understanding of the theory you will have a hard time with service work.
If you get the job, I would recommend getting into a trade school at night also if that is available in your area. It will only make you more valuable and you will be able to write your own ticket in the future. The more you learn the less likely you will be pulling wire in 10 years. The fun part is the troubleshooting anyways. Industrial maintenance was the most interesting for me.

Good Luck!!!

P.S. This was not a comparison of union vs non-union workers. It was only a comparison of education. I believe it's all in the person and I have friends on both sides of the fence, and I've worked both sides of the fence.

P.S.S. I've heard that there is an appenticeship organization for nonunion shops. Textbooks, testing and all that jazz. I don't know how good that is, does anybody else?

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Old 03-14-2008, 11:01 AM   #3
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Need advice on meeting with a local shop


I won't go into the education part and you don't say if you have any formal electrical background or skills that are applicable and documented for a career with an electrical contractor. And you didn't say if this was a commercial contractor or residential contractor. So not having those other than applying for the IBEW (have you taken the acceptance test yet) list your going to have to be in darn good shape. Your potential employer is going to take a look at you as far as your physical condition. Because you will be starting most likely with the conduit guys and on the grunt team so to speak if a commercial shop. You will need to be in good physical condition. The work is very physical so if you get hired you better be ready. Nothing sets the mood of your co-worker towards you if you cannot hold your weight on what ever crew you get assigned. You also need good reliable transportation.
It wouldn't hurt to mention your background for operating equipment such as scissors lifts, loaders, etc... Be prepared to give a contact for the guy hiring you for a reference to your reliability.
If a residential contractor you need to look like you can climb a ladder or agile enough to get around on the building structure without running out of gas physically.
I would say physical condition this is the #1 thing that will get you hired without education background.
Remember this guy is going to look at you in " are you trainable " circumstances so lacking anything other than your word that you have some electrical knowledge he is going to focus on your physical appearence. And be serious don't try to get a laugh in your interview.
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Old 03-14-2008, 12:19 PM   #4
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quote=Silk;107553
1) Stop by to make an appointment, you will probably get your interview on the spot if the owner is there.

2) Get a haircut, cover up your tattoos, spit the snuff out,get rid of that stupid earring, and dress as if you were going to work for this guy right after the interview (but clean) and be ready to go to work that day if possible. Most people that like to dress up, don't like to get their hands dirty I've found over the years.

No tattoos, don't chew, no piercings so no worry about that. That's good advice about dress... I wouldn't have thought that way. Probably would have gone with khakis and a polo or something.

3) Don't be a name dropper

I called my friend who used to work for them this morning, and he said he didn't really leave on good terms, so I won't be using his name anyways. I'm generally not a name dropper, but I thought in a case like this it *might* be acceptable. But since he wasn't on good terms, not gonna happen anyways.

4) Habitat for humanity is OK, but just because it shows you are willing to work with your hands. Don't talk about being on the church council or anything like that.

Ya, the whole thing about H4H would be to show some practical experience.

Here's where the fight will start

I went through a 2 year trade school and then went through the IBEW apprenticeship afterward. I've worked with union and non-union. What I've found is that just a union apprenticeship without trade school is inferior to trades school and an apprenticeship. There is no way that 1 day a week in the classroom can compare to 5 days a week for 2 years for an education. The IBEW apprenticeship will make you very good at code and basic theory, but you won't be as well rounded with electronics, PLC's, drives, ect. For example I had 3 months of PLC training in trade school and 2 weeks in the apprenticeship.
That being said, no trade school and going non-union with no formal apprenticeship is inferior to the IBEW. Alot of the nonunion guys I've worked with are great at construction and hard workers, but a majority of them are severely lacking in electrical theory and troubleshooting skills. Without a firm understanding of the theory you will have a hard time with service work.
If you get the job, I would recommend getting into a trade school at night also if that is available in your area. It will only make you more valuable and you will be able to write your own ticket in the future. The more you learn the less likely you will be pulling wire in 10 years. The fun part is the troubleshooting anyways. Industrial maintenance was the most interesting for me.

Good Luck!!!

I think the local BOCES offers some adult courses in different trades, so I will probably be looking into that.

Thanks for the advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stubbie View Post
I won't go into the education part and you don't say if you have any formal electrical background or skills that are applicable and documented for a career with an electrical contractor. And you didn't say if this was a commercial contractor or residential contractor. So not having those other than applying for the IBEW (have you taken the acceptance test yet) list your going to have to be in darn good shape. Your potential employer is going to take a look at you as far as your physical condition. Because you will be starting most likely with the conduit guys and on the grunt team so to speak if a commercial shop. You will need to be in good physical condition. The work is very physical so if you get hired you better be ready. Nothing sets the mood of your co-worker towards you if you cannot hold your weight on what ever crew you get assigned. You also need good reliable transportation.
It wouldn't hurt to mention your background for operating equipment such as scissors lifts, loaders, etc... Be prepared to give a contact for the guy hiring you for a reference to your reliability.
If a residential contractor you need to look like you can climb a ladder or agile enough to get around on the building structure without running out of gas physically.
I would say physical condition this is the #1 thing that will get you hired without education background.
Remember this guy is going to look at you in " are you trainable " circumstances so lacking anything other than your word that you have some electrical knowledge he is going to focus on your physical appearence. And be serious don't try to get a laugh in your interview.
I have already tested and interviewed with the IBEW, and am "on the list", and was told by the director that the list is long and I can probably expect to see some action not this coming september but the following year.

In terms of physical shape, well I would not consider myself "in shape", but I have no problems with hard physical labor. I do alot of outdoor work at home with landscaping, and have done a great deal of building with my father in law... so I am no stranger to hard work. Theres not much I can't imagine myself doing... but like you stressed it, I am worried about my apperience. Hopefully they can see past that!
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Old 03-14-2008, 03:39 PM   #5
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Need advice on meeting with a local shop


Show up EARLY, dressed for work, carrying your tools, and they will put you right to work.
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Old 03-14-2008, 08:33 PM   #6
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I am a nonunion apprentice right now. It sounds like these guys have you steered in the right direction. Show up dressed to work, go to the shop to make an appointment, with luck the boss will be there. Having experience with tools is a big plus. I thought I knew a little about electricity until I started this job. There is so much to learn....
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Old 03-14-2008, 09:32 PM   #7
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whichever apprenticeship program you enter, be sure they are federally registered and acknowledged. The US Dept of Labor places requirements for an apprenticeship to be legally acknowledged. While anybody can claim they are providing an apprenticeship, that does not mean you actually are in one and become recgonized as a journeyman upon completion.

Not sure where silk had a 2 year IBEW apprenticeship. I haven't seen the journeyman inside wireman program less than 4 years for a very very long time. If he went through the residential wireman program, from my understanding (contrary to many claims) that is not actually an apprenticeship that results in the recognition as a journeyman. Not long enough typically in most states or federal requirements, I believe.

Anyway, make sure the program is registered.

I hate to be a killjoy but I strongly disagree with the last 2 posters. If you are considering, and they are considering accepting you as an apprentice, I would not work for a company that started a person that quick. Background checks and evidence of mental ability would be very appropriate. If an employer were willing to employ a person on first meeting, I would question their motives and the quality of the program offered.

Not that all this is required but the IBEW has several different methods for testing to gain entry (different locals, various tests). We were also required to prove at least 1 year high school algebra and the first class we entered was a trig course. Trig is big in the apprenticeship and if you cannot understand it, you most likely will not make it through the program.

Since we are talking about apprenticeships, you must understand that the main purpose is not to run out and go to work but to learn and understand the work to some extent. There will be plenty of time to work your ass off later.

While physical ability is very high on the list of required assets, intelligence is pretty close. I did not want to prove I was ready to be a grunt (and you do have to be willing to be a grunt) but rather ready to go to school and learn about this trade and become a JIW and an important part of their team.
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Old 03-14-2008, 09:43 PM   #8
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Well, I called this afternoon, and spoke with someone else, and they filled me in with what is going on. It IS an apprenteship program, sanctioned by the dept of labor, and is in conjunction with the local BOCES.

He told me that I have to go through the same kind of stuff as the IBEW. fill out an application, interview, etc. Classes a few nights a week, with a total of 8000 hours OJT to become a journeyman. Sounds just like the IBEW program, just non union.

I didn't stop to fill out the application on my way home today (partly because I hadn't shaved, but also had agreed to babysit my neice and nephew) but will defanatly be stopping in for it monday.
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Old 03-14-2008, 09:50 PM   #9
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that sounds a lot better. From what I understand, an individual employer can put on their own apprenticship if they want. There is also the ABC group out there that offers apprenticeships as well.

Get as much info as possible as to what the teach you. Theory (in my opinion) is the most important item they need to teach you. An intelligent man with an understand of theory can diagnose and repair just about anything.


anybody can yank on wire but it takes intelligence to understand why you are using that type of wire and that size of wire and a million other things.
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Old 03-14-2008, 10:07 PM   #10
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Good luck. I hope it works out.
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Old 03-14-2008, 11:48 PM   #11
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I would not work for a company that started a person that quick.

You'd say "Sorry but I can't accept the job. You didn't think about it long enough"




Quote:
Background checks and evidence of mental ability would be very appropriate.

I do background checks and field evaluations in the 2 week probationary period.



Quote:
If an employer were willing to employ a person on first meeting, I would question their motives
I'm gifted . I can tell a LOT about a person in 2 minutes. One hour in the field and I know if it's going to "work out"
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Old 03-15-2008, 12:27 AM   #12
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There is no way that 1 day a week in the classroom can compare to 5 days a week for 2 years for an education. The IBEW apprenticeship will make you very good at code and basic theory, but you won't be as well rounded with electronics, PLC's, drives, ect. For example I had 3 months of PLC training in trade school and 2 weeks in the apprenticeship.
I don't know where you went through your apprenticeship, but I was in the classroom 5 days a week for 9 and 11 weeks at a time. Pipe bending, code, fire alarm, BICSI, motor controls, photvoltaic, PLC, process control, printreading, and on the job training constituted the bulk of my education for the four year (or was it 5?) apprenticeship. I know that with the addition of two classes in labor history and construction mngmt. it counts as an associates degree.

You can learn as much as you want from whoever you want. Union, non-union, it doesn't matter. Andy, I've read your posts, I know that you at least have a respect for the trade and a willingness to get things right. Follow your gut on this. If you feel like you are going to get a good 'in', then go with it. If nothing else, it will get you a leg up when the IBEW calls you up for apprenticeship.
Good luck.
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Old 03-15-2008, 10:42 AM   #13
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Well said goose. I agree.
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Old 03-15-2008, 01:27 PM   #14
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The shop I work for has 3 project managers (one of whom is an owner), and 8 foremen (3 of whom are owners). We have anywhere from 40 to 100 guys working, depending on how much work we have going on.

When we're loking for help, the office will hire just about anyone, and send them out to us foremen. Journeymen, apprentices, unskilled, etc. Most guys last about 2 hours, some are keepers for the rest of the job, and occasionally we get a REAL keeper.

4 of our foremen were hired this way. They came to the office, little or no experience, got hired, worked and learned, got into the apprenticeship, worked and learned more (ALOT more), and about 10 years down the road they're running multi-million dollar electrical projects. And making around $100K/year. (Really good money for around here).

Andy, looking back on your previous posts, I could easily see you being one of these guys. Go for it, you'll be glad you did!

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Old 03-15-2008, 02:53 PM   #15
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Not sure where silk had a 2 year IBEW apprenticeship. I haven't seen the journeyman inside wireman program less than 4 years for a very very long time. If he went through the residential wireman program, from my understanding (contrary to many claims) that is not actually an apprenticeship that results in the recognition as a journeyman. Not long enough typically in most states or federal requirements, I believe.

.
I never said I had a 2 year apprenticeship. I said I had 2 years of trade school for electrical construction and maintenance before I went into a 4 Year IBEW apprenticeship. I have no idea what a "residential wireman program" is, it must be something in your state. So I actually had 6 years of training (I should have been a doctor). Having been through both I believe I am able to make the comparison between them.
I knew it would upset you people that never had the trade school if I was to compare them, but it has just been my experience.

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