The Art of Survival

I’m not going to lie. These are tuff -tuff times. This current economical environment wasn’t my idea of circumstances that I would have picked to become a fresh Journeyman Electrician in. But don’t take this statement as any kind of discouragement from me. I know a lot of guys whom I came out of my time with, who are currently out of work. I know a lot of guys, who have the ability to travel as Journeyman and they are working; there are a few who are currently in Iraq. I consider myself lucky because currently I am working and I am just trying to survive.

When I was a 2nd year apprentice I had two instructors who had expressed to us the reality of recession coming in our near future. I don’t think anyone of us realized it was coming so soon. Their stories, on how they made it thru, are examples I use as an outline on how to survive in times like these. I mean it wasn’t a shock and I felt prepared for it for the most part but can you really be prepared for bleak economic times?

There are lessons to be learned in any given situation. When you get to know who you are working with you develop relationships and shared experience can be more than just electrical technique in this trade. I would rather gain from someone’s experience who has been thru it than trying to figure it out on my own.

There are brothers and sisters who have seen similar times like this before. We are all feeling it. What I feel that is unique, is running into brothers who were project managers and brothers who were running big jobs…and working along side with them now having a chance to pick their brain. Here are a few gems of wisdom from all that I am taking in.

1st and foremost live within your means. We make a good living but just because you can afford the monthly payments on it doesn’t necessarily mean you should sign your name to it. And definitely don’t spread your finances thin.

Invest and save. A foreman told me that he still lives like his wages are a 5th year’s but everything extra he makes he puts away.

Don’t be afraid to travel. The golden rule is to treat others like you want to be treated but the silver rule is by all means try to keep coin in your pocket. If there are jurisdictions where there is work, as a Journeyman, you can go there and sign the book at the specific local and receive a referral.

The most important gem to me was that “it will pass we’ve seen [recession and job loss] it before and we’ll see it again”….. Endurance – the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially : the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort.


2 thoughts on “The Art of Survival

  1. Very nice post. I entered the apprenticeship when I had recently turned 26. I had gone through college already, and worked 7-8 different jobs before I joined Local 26. Prior to the apprenticeship program, not once did I hear this phrase: “make sure you have 3-6 months' worth of pay in an emergency fund”. Of course I was told to save money, but never was such a specific amount given. To me, that goal has given me peace of mind. I may not be there yet, but I know that I'm working on it steadily. Brothers and sisters from our Local have taught me so much in addition to strictly electrical work — wisdom about life skills and people skills and how to live well. (Also, I think hearing the stories of men who are working tooth and nail, fighting to keep their McMansions and McBoats and McRacecars also helps. It's good perspective!)


  2. Mark,

    Just wanted to say how much I am enjoying following your blog, as well as the blogs of your fellow JATC apprentices! I work on the Registered Apprenticeship Community of Practice, and I wanted to let you know that we are highlighting your great blogs on the Community. You can check it out at

    Thanks for sharing your great work on your blog!


    Gretchen Sullivan
    Maher & Maher


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