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When asked about her challenges along the way, Monica is quick to say she felt confident right from the get-go.
Meet Monica Phillips, a fourth-year electrical apprenticeship student at the Harford County Electrical Contractors Apprenticeship Program here at Harford Community College. After a workplace injury involving heavy equipment several years ago left her in pain and unable to do that type of work any longer, Monica turned to the field of electrical work. She refused to let her previous injury define her future or force her into a desk job; she knew this was her opportunity to pursue her dream.
Monica had always wanted to be an electrician. Her mother was against it, but once she realized that it was something she could be good at and make a career of, she decided, “I need to be able to do this for me.” This line of work enabled Monica to utilize her creativity, her knack for troubleshooting, and her ability to solve problems. She was grateful to have found the Harford County Electrical Contractors Apprenticeship program after checking out a competing program that didn’t come close to matching all that HCECA had to offer.
Monica attends class two nights a week while working full time for Gettle, a commercial and industrial electrical contracting company. Her foreman has the utmost confidence in her skills, so Monica has plenty of work she completes independently. She is thriving in an environment that is giving her top-notch experience and enables her to use her creativity and skills. Upon completion of the program in May, she will receive her journeyperson’s certificate and be eligible to apply for her Maryland journeyperson’s license.
Monica isn’t stopping there. Her plan is to continue on to her master’s electrician license, and further, to become an electrical engineer! The Electrical Apprenticeship program will earn her 20 credits toward an associate degree, an option other programs do not offer.
When asked about her challenges along the way, Monica is quick to say she felt confident right from the get-go. As a woman in a largely male-dominated field, the odds were high that she might’ve had a rough time acclimating. Not the case with Monica! Within a day or two, she proved herself with her knowledge, mechanical abilities and confidence, and was quickly welcomed and accepted in the group.
Monica really started to feel her accomplishments build this year, her fourth year of study, under the direction of instructor Lee Jolly. Year four of the program focuses on code and pulls together all the foundational concepts and practical applications she learned in years one through three, including residential, commercial, and industrial electrical work. Mr. Jolly effectively built Monica’s confidence to act as a foreman; in other words, think like a foreman would think and put those ideas into action.
Monica’s future is bright and full of possibilities. She loves that she will have the choice to possibly be in business for herself. She knows the demand is high for her skills and the salary potential can reach heights of which she once only dared to dream.
8,000 hours of on-the-job training plus four years of classroom instruction and hands-on learning may sound daunting, but successful completion of the program results in just about a guaranteed high-paying, in-demand career path. Monica is glad she’s on her way – and knows the sky’s the limit!
The Harford County Electrical Contractors Apprenticeship (HCECA) program is housed at HCC’s Edgewood Hall and graduates approximately 50 to 70 students each year. Since 1982, 1,634 apprentices have graduated from the program.
HCECA was formed as an official group in 1941. In 1978, the organization was restructured and over the next few years it became one of the largest electrical apprenticeship programs in Maryland. The Contractors Association organized their members, worked with local and state agencies, hired educational consultants, and formed a long-term academic partnership with the College.
For more information on the program, contact Ronn Blaney, HCECA Electrical Apprenticeship Training Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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