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Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 2
AnArKey Offline OP
Junior Member
First off, hello everyone!

I'm a ex-software programmer who used to work for Intel. Let's just say that line of work is not coming back for me. Jobs are just plain gone.

Back in college I took lots of electrical courses, analog and digital. I have wired up countless things, know how to solder, etc. I fimly understand the concepts of resistance, current, ohms law, etc. I know at least all the basics already.

I applied to two seperate programs at my local center in Portland, OR:

Commerical as well as the Limited Energy program (want the best chance to get into something).

After two months of waiting, and one month where I thought I just didn't make the cut, I received letters that I qualified for both, and will be called into interviews for both.

My questions are:

1. Did the fact I got these letters indicate I'm in a now reduced pool of potential students? Or did everyone who made the bare requirements (which were well established up front) probably get this far? Just like to know how high I can place my hopes. Being long term unemployed, I play a balancing act of keeping enough hope to not fall into depression, without taking my hopes too far to be smashed into pieces, which happens frequently (yes UE is hell).

2. What tips can any of you give me for the interview? What personal attributes will they be looking for? Serious and professional or easy going? Make a effort to smile, or suppress it?

3. Also, should I try and downplay my past career? I know that a perseption exists about ex-IT people looking to find a new job, that we are just biding time until the next IT job comes around. That's from those who don't understand those jobs aren't coming back, and which I know all too well. I don't want to give the impression that I am not 100% commited to seeing the apprenticeship all the way through, which I most certainly am. At the same time, my time at Intel shows I am technically proficient, able to learn things quickly and with relative ease, and am no stranger to long hours of work and study. How do I share my past and also convince them I am 100% commited to becoming a electrician?

Thanks in advance for any advise that can be offered.

[This message has been edited by AnArKey (edited 01-24-2004).]

[This message has been edited by AnArKey (edited 01-24-2004).]

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 717
Attitude - humble, greatful for the interview - always works pretty well.

Don't downplay your college, lets 'em know you are able to keep up with the courses, they should be academically fairly easy for you. but don't tell 'em you're a genius and they should simply open the door for you either.

Trust me, you're about to have your eyes opened that not all truly intelligent people want to wear a tie and Brooks Brothers, and some of 'em don't mind mud, cold, heat, and sweat.

Let 'em know that while your original career was interesting, it's over. You're ready to actually build something with your hands that will stand for years. You're ready to join a band of brothers (Union and open shop) who can say with pride they were there to make it happen.

Believe in an attitude of service, and the dignity of work, you'll be fine, and that don't necessarily apply just to 'lectric work either.

They want someone to show up, and produce, AND do a good competent job. I would not needle them with "how much time off?" questions at this point, if you've been unemployed, take the danged job, give it some time (sorry, unless you live in Nirvana, the FNG's ALWAYS catch crap) and look around, you're about to join something truly amazing, making friendships and memories you'll never lose no matter what happens......... some bad.

Don't be a minuteman, either to the interview, or after, NOTHING is more irritating to a boss than someone who just barely makes it on time, be a few minutes early to the job, have a cup of coffee with the crews, you can learn a lot that way......... AND get coffee. [Linked Image]

Boss' and foreman are different, some are a PITA, some are golden, take 'em all in stride, I learned a lot from guys no one else wanted to be around... they were still a PITA of course.

With your education, it may be that fire alarm tech, or some such, is in your future, a little easier than general work, but you may find you like the general stuff to, give it all a chance.

Good luck, we're pulling for you.

Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 200
I'm also an ex-IT guy. I got my Computer Systems Technology diploma (essentially business & programming). Two jobs, 6 months. and countless interviews later I found out the jobs I was qualified for weren't the ones I wanted.

Bailed on IT altogether and worked for an autowrecker for 4 years. By then I was married and had a child on the way. Hmmm.... I better do something carreer-wise - and fast!

Went down to the local IBEW and said,

"I want to be an electrican. Where do I start?"

They wanted transcripts & a resume, had me in for an interview the next week. I simply took the attitude that I'm looking for an honest day's pay for an honest day's work. They put me on their dispatch list. About a month later they had a job placement and an extrance exam for me. Picked up my work card, wrote the test, and left the hall as an indentured IBEW apprentice inside-wireman. They sent me to my new employer's office where I was given orientation, a hardhat, directions to the jobsite, and my foreman's phone number.

Two months later, I received a letter from the Union with a date/time/location for 1st year school at my local vocational institute.

It's been 2-1/2 years since I started. This had been a very satisfying carreer choice for me. My only regret is not having started electrical back in Grade 10 when I first considered it.

BTW: I still get a big laugh from guys on the jobsite when I tell them how I used to get caught sleeping at my desk at the old computer job [Linked Image]

Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 2
AnArKey Offline OP
Junior Member
u2slow, great story. Gets my hopes up too high though.

It can't be that easy for me. I know the application/acceptance ratio is at least 4:1, so I better not count on anything just yet.

I really hope it does turn out that well. Air Force is the fall back plan.

[This message has been edited by AnArKey (edited 01-25-2004).]

Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 159
CRW Offline
Sounds like you're on the right track. If I were you, I'd try to go for the commercial (Inside Wireman) program. The pay is better, the work more diverse, and you'll probably end up doing some of the limited energy work as well anyway. Hopefully work is moving in your area and you can stay employed consistently. The fct that they sent you letters probably means work is good enough that they can afford to take in new people. The time will go fast, and you will be a journeyman before long.

My advice is to be persistent in getting into the program, and once you're in, show that you want to learn the trade. Use your previous training to your advantage without coming across as a know-it-all or arrogant. Some people mught criticize you for being too "book-smart". If you are willing to work hard, get dirty, spend time in the ditch, they should respect that. One day you may be bending 4" rigid pipe, another day you could be terminating complex control cabinets.

Hope it works out for you!

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