Nick Nguyen: 3rd Year Residential Apprentice
I was 18 when the trades first sparked my interest. I was working at a grocery store, and we had our own electrician. It looked really cool and interesting to me. I had never done anything except customer service and retail, so I was excited and nervous when I started my apprenticeship in 2018.
Since then, I’ve loved getting started on a real career. I like it all, but my biggest thing is troubleshooting. I enjoy the challenge, having the satisfaction of figuring it out on my own, and I love how every day something new arises. No day is the same, and you never know what’s going to be thrown your way.
I love being a part of the union. It’s a collective, and you’re never on your own. Sometimes I can’t believe how well I’m taken care of, and I never knew these kinds of benefits existed. I came from minimum wage jobs where I couldn’t even get 40 hours. Now, I’m full time with health care and a pension.
My free time is limited, but when I get the chance, I watch comedies on Netflix, hang out with my girlfriend, and try new foods. In the pandemic, we’ve been doing a lot of takeout and picnicking at different parks. But my focus is really on my work. I’m studying every day, learning the codes, and doing practice tests, because after I turn out from the residential program in June, I want to head into the commercial program. I feel like I have so many opportunities, and being a part of the union was the best decision I ever made.
Brent Jones: Journeyman Inside Electrician & 2020 Graduate
Before I got into the apprenticeship, I was working for an oil company. I talked to the electricians out there, watched them work, and it looked so cool. They were the ones who pushed me to apply in 2014.
I loved the apprenticeship. I got to work for different contractors and see the differences between shops and different aspects of the trade. There’s so many avenues to take. I’ve been doing underground for the last two years, but I haven’t developed a specific niche. However, one of the reasons why I like this work so much is that you can do so many things. It’s impossible to get bored.
Turning out is like winning the lottery. Wow–life begins, and it’s cool knowing you’ve accomplished something and are now part of this group. I’ve been on this job from start to finish, putting in the utilities for an elementary, middle, and high school. In fact, we just turned the lights on today, and it’s a great feeling.
I love being a part of the union. It’s life changing, and I went from barely scraping by to owning a house. I moved around a lot as a kid, and now I’m able to give my kids something I never had: stability. My wife deserves some credit. She supported me through the apprenticeship with all the late nights and absent weekends. We are high school sweethearts, and she’s my rock.