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.
So a few weeks ago I finish my first night course which was fire alarm. I actually learned more than I thought I would and now I’m trying to focus myself towards taking the test to get my Nicet certification. I’m going for the level 2 which might be a big part in making sure I stay employed. It feels like the hardest part of taking this test is getting my application finished to actually sign up for it. I’m hoping I can kick myself into gear before I start forgetting some the precious knowledge I picked up over the past few months. I’m just beginning my power quality night class and I’m hoping I can learn just as much.
In other news I think I’ve fully adapted to my new company. The last job I was on I think my foremen appreciated and recognized my work so he sent me to another foreman that needed a good apprentice. The new foreman I was sent to delegates me a lot more responsibility and puts a lot of trust into me which is real good at this phase of the game being that I’m getting closer and closer to big boy status. It feels like the jobs I get are always mind numbing tight places but he seems to be happy with the way I’ve been handling everything. The other day we actually had a little challenge going. He asked me how long it would take me finish the room I was working on and I paused for a sec and told him I could probably have it done by break time. After looking at me like said something crazy he told me he doubted I could have it done by the end of the day. Me being the person I am that only motivated me to make him eat his words. I actually ended up going about 30 minutes past my deadline but he was impressed nonetheless. Things like that make the day go by for me. So I’m building confidence and feeling pretty optimistic about my future especially since I have about another year and a half to develop and sharpen my skills.
Good even folks. So last week I transferred from my small contractor JWE to the much larger Freestate. I’m definitely missing all the guys at the last company and the family environment they had going on. Plus I felt like the foremen trusted me with a lot of different task so I usually got to see most of the different aspects of every job I was on. First day with my new contractor my foreman had about a 20 minute conversation with me and another apprentice pretty much letting us know that he had no problem laying anyone off and just wanted us to work from start to finish and play it straight. I definitely could respect where he was coming from and understand that with the way times are companies are a lot tighter, but I just felt that down to earth easy going vibe at work would be a thing of the past. So I’m on the lighting crew and I’ve been slamming in fixtures a task that I’ve become all to familiar with. On the plus side so far I’ve been getting over time and the extra money definitely is a bonus. At times it feels like if I touch another fixture or wire nut I’m going to lose my mind. The mechanics at the company are pretty good guys and it seems like the line between apprentice work and mechanic work are nonexistent at least on the lighting crew. I’m hoping to some how get in with the switch gear crew or the service department so over the next few weeks I’m going to try to work my magic and see what I can make happen.
Good evening folks. So a lot has been going on over the past few months. I finished day school finally after 3 not so long years. It was bitter sweet because I no longer have to worry about a test the night before class and hope that I studied enough but I don’t get the little break in work every 2 weeks as well as getting up a little later and kicking back in class with some people I’ve grown accustomed to. I think the my superintendent and foreman like the fact that they don’t have to worry about man power on my days off any more. So another bit of good news is my raise that I received last week. Past couple of years my raise has been delays due to hours and the fact I started working a little later than the rest of my classmates so it finally feels good to be all caught up and have the extra cash in my pocket. Not too much has changed at work I’m still in a good comfort zone where I feel confident enough to take on any project and my foreman’s and mechanics don’t have a problem letting me. Actually seems they come to expect it. Recently I went from a fast pace balls to the wall job to a real easy going cruise control type of project. I think I prefer the fast pace jobs just because they make the day go by but I’m working on my versatility. Next Thursday I’ll start my first night school class. I been considering going to college for engineering since I can apply credits from day school. I’m hoping to start this year or next year before I become too complacent. But things are looking up I transfer in October and I’m hoping things continue to get better.
So about 3 years I remember walking on to my first construction site eager to learn, get my hands wet and all that good stuff. Well I got my hands blue from all the mc I pulled with another first year for about 3 months or so with no idea of the big picture. Than after that we processed to slam every fixture into the grid while an older mechanic pointed where he wanted them and spray painted these green dots. I’m sure these sound like bitter memories and I’m not going lie back than I was a little exasperated by the monotony. But I didn’t realize until this week it’s been about 2 years since I’ve been in that same type of work setting and it’s like having a completely different job. I remember my foreman would talk to my mechanic, they’d look at some prints and than he’d come back in and point some more. Today my foreman just brought me to a room set out the prints and said take care of the power and the lighting. Honestly it’s not very hard of a task and at this point in the game it shouldn’t be a problem. But as I worked in that room alone and laid out the device, ran that mc, wired everything and even had time to give my foreman a little grief for pulling some extra wire I couldn’t help but to feel a sense of accomplishment.
Over the past few months I’ve been back and forth between several different jobs and several different mechanics. Bouncing around is cool sometimes because usually if you finish a job close to quitting time you get off early and it’s usually a lot more laid back. Now on the other hand it sucks having to lug all your tools around especially when I’m in the mood to ride my motorcycle into work. I’m pretty familiar now with most of the foreman and mechanics at my company so usually work goes smooth, it’s nice when your familiar with the way someone works and can trust each others work. Occasionally I get that one that feels it necessary to watch me closely and baby me through everything but I guess some have a different feeling out process than others. Once i get a good feel for the whole job I usually try to stray away from my foreman and just do what I feel needs to be done. I’ve gotten myself in a little trouble that way a few times but most of the time it leads to good things. There’s nothing like hearing mechanics are requesting to work with you.
So in a few months I’ll be going into my 4th year into the apprenticeship. I think my skills are progressing nicely, but I always wonder what the next company is going to expect of me. I really want to get a little more switchgear experience under my belt. Not to say that it’s one of the harder things than anything else, but it I’ve yet to be part of a complete gear install and it’s a pretty common thing in the trade. It might be a little premature to start thinking about my transfer already but the way I see it I only have a few more months to get comfortable with the things that might make me look like a superstar with my next company and get me on the more talented work, or look like a newbie and end up doing the grunt work.
As I get a little further into the apprenticeship I’m beginning to see more and more the subtle transition from apprentice to mechanic. In the last few months I’ve been taking more initiative and working on a lot of projects by myself when I can. Now these are projects that it feels I’ve done time and time again to the point where it should be easy but I’m learning bending and running pipe is probably the easiest part of running pipe. Even when I’m working with a mechanic and we’re both kind of doing our own thing I never noticed how helpful that extra set of eyes could be until it’s not there. Now don’t get me wrong I think I’m pretty good at working through problems and putting things together, but sometimes I over look things that can come back to bite me. For example I might plan out a pipe run than start working and realize the floor isn’t level and now my pipe is running downhill, or the walls aren’t square, or the block isn’t level and make my pipe run an eye sore comparative to the room. There’s so many little things that can go wrong from forgetting a connector and having to walk all the way back to the container to measuring to a rack for a 90 than forgetting to add the diameter of your pipe. Sometimes times a mechanic might have these things worked out and I just have to follow a preset plan and just concentrate on the install, but now that my eyes are a little more open I try to make it my business to take a little more responsibility in my work. It’s really not as much of an issue after I’ve been doing the same project for a while but different task require different level of planning speed and attention and I think the ability to transition and adapt smoothly is what really separates the rookies from the vets.
Today was just really one of those days. It started off with me getting call from my foreman which I thought was at 3am. Turns out it was 5:55am and the job started at 6. I’m rarely late but when I am it always feels like a big screw up. So than upon finally arriving to the naval base my foreman and I had an issue with the directions which led him to get frustrated and his frustration was really starting to irritate me but I felt I had to restrain my annoyance because I was already late. And I’m definitely someone who doesn’t like to bite his tongue. When I finally arrived to the job I could tell it was going to be one of those days, the work we were doing was one of those task that could be real easy if everything went right but unfornuately it was opposite. So after pulling some pipes apart accidentally that were in wet cement, drilling into a direct burial cable, getting lost and coming in late I felt like my apprentice rating was definitely declining. Lately I’ve been bouncing around job to job so I don’t feel I’ve had a chance to really get comfortable on a job and prove myself. I’m hoping this doesn’t land me on a crew doing mindless task that require no thought or skill.
So this past Friday a mechanic whom I had been working for a few months was laid off. It’s been about a year since I’ve actually seen somebody get laid off so I had almost forgot the gut wrenching feeling. It’s a crazy feeling when you work with someone everyday get to know them and a little about their lives, goals, family and than all of a sudden their world get changed. I made me realize I’m very fortunately to be in the apprenticeship at this time because until we graduate we have kind of a bubble of protection. My prayers go out to all of those who are having a hard time finding working. Sometimes I really concerned for my own future. I have no doubts that I’ll make a good mechanic and be a productive worker but I wonder will that be enough in the future to keep me employed. I’m not a guy with a many connections so all I really have is my work to speak for me. But I’m sure just about everyone knows a good worker or two that are unemployed. Well I hope everyone enjoys their holidays, and may the new year bring better fortune.
It’s been a little bit since I posted but I’m extremely happy to say I am done with my motor control project. We handed them in yesterday and every time I got next to the computer that thing was just staring me in the face. Just felt like I was being harassed by relays and floats and solenoids. As far work goes somethings have changed I think my mechanics are starting to see and respect my abilities more. I just been taking the initiative whenever I’m given a task. When I’m told to pull the mc for fixtures I’ll do that plus wire all the 3 ways and junction boxes and just starting completely the whole task rather than focusing on the piece. I try to make sure by the time the foreman comes back to tell me what’s next he gets lost in what’s been done so he either has to talk to me and give me the whole picture or give up and leave the rest to me. It’s a risky strategy because if things don’t work you take all the blame but it’s been paying off and time goes by a lot faster plus I either learn from my mistakes or become more confident. I try to take more risk while I’m an apprentice in the learning process because I have a little more job security right now and if I mess up they’ll just say well your only an apprentice. When I’m a mechanic I think I’ll probably stop just jumping in random equipment that I don’t know how to operate yet and jumping into work I’m not completely comfortable with, but the way I see it if I do all that now when I’m a journeyman I won’t have to.