Michael Skeeters – 3rd Year Sound & Comms Apprentice
Before getting into the trades, third year sound and communications apprentice Michael Skeeters worked in the delivery and transportation industry as a dispatcher. “It’s been a challenge--a learning curve,” he said.
Michael got into the field through Working Partnership USA’s Trade Orientation Program (TOP) which introduces people to the various building trades, unions, and people working in the industries, and then prepares them for the tests and interviews. “I don’t know if it gave me an edge, but it helps open doors,” he said.
Michael plans on taking the state certification exams this year and is excited about the long-term project he’s been assigned to. “I will be working with foremen and crew members who are knowledgeable and experienced and great teachers. This project might also allow me to work on some systems I haven’t been able to work on so far.”
“Being a member of 332 has afforded me the opportunity to learn a sustainable career skill set,” explained Michael. “With the union, you’re part of a group, and there’s safety and security that come with that. I’ve met some really good people who believed in me. You also earn a decent wage, have great benefits and a pension, and I can apply myself and have other directions and opportunities open up for me.”
Nina Guerrero - 2nd Year Inside Apprentice
Before becoming an apprentice, Nina Guerrero worked in the automotive industry. But she saw that her husband, a Local 332 journeyman, was earning higher pay with better benefits for the same amount of work, and decided it was time to make a switch. “I was so proud to get the job. It’s hands-on, it’s outdoors; there’s a sense of freedom. Every single job is something new, never stuck doing the same thing. I love what I do!”
After Nina turns out, she hopes to eventually move up to foreman. “I want to run work, hopefully. The union gives you the ability to do anything. They’re so open to letting you move up in your career. The union also has training for you: If there’s something you want to specialize in, you can train for that.”
Nina has a two-year-old and a new baby, but she says that on the job, she’s treated just like anyone else. “I haven’t met a lot of women in this field, but it’s really no different from any other workplace. They know how hard it is in the beginning and they just try to train you,” she explained. “It’s a great opportunity. You don’t need to have a college education to do it; it’s open to everybody. If you’re willing to put in the work and the time, you can do this for the rest of your career.”