When I was approached to participate in writing a blog for the JATC’s website; it was a quick yes. I figured it was the least I could do for an organization that has provided me with so much in the way of making something out of myself.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Thompson. I am a 5th year apprentice and I am also the current appeals board representative for apprentices. Currently I am working for J.E.Richards, Inc.
I began with IBEW local 26, on the residential side. I had been working with a non-union electrical outfit; however I was in contact with Union Electricians working for another contractor on the same site. From day one for me there was a difference. The contrast was in confidence, in pride and in the scope and type of work. I noticed it. As luck would have it; I happened to know one of the Union Apprentices and in our conversation I discovered I was not on the path to the top of the food chain. I researched the Union and made contacts. But, I didn’t make a move until the contractor I was working for bounced the payroll and went under. I was not really sure of my next move, that’s when I made my best move in contacting the Union. With my Proof of experience that same day I got a referral. I spent my spring with Birkhead and then in the fall I fell in with J.E.Richards. Sometimes you get lucky.
I have had a string of foremen who have taken the time to guide and teach me. All of them told me the direction I was to take was the apprenticeship and so I applied. I got my scheduled date to take the entrance exam and I can still remember the day when I called and was told I had passed it. Interview, acceptance, there were a few of us were classified early, orientation and with the new classification came a whole new breed and type of experience. It went from just a job into a career.
That was about five years ago…Today I was on top of the Hotel Washington overlooking the Whitehouse (and you’d better have sniper clearance)…I looked to the North and I could see the Washington monument…I thought of the work there with Bryant and Berry in my second year. To the East I could see the Executive office building and I thought of my good friends Kenny and Amos with Singleton and all that overtime…Southwest…the New Police station on M. St. with Heller…the National Gallery of Art…Bowling Air force base and the D.I.A., NIH, the Swiss embassy, the World Bank….stretch down the Potomac to Morgantown Power plant and my time with Dyna services…each job a lesson…on December 9th I came back to Richards… where I began my apprenticeship as a first year…three weeks later…welcome back here’s some prints a game box full of tools and some help now show us what you’ve learned…my pleasure…it’s a circle or a complete electrical circuit if you will…