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#72178 - 11/20/06 09:45 PM advice for newbie?  
girl germs  Offline
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 26
Victoria, BC, Canada

I've taken the pre-apprenticeship training for electrical, but I've taken it by correspondence (the local college had a two-and-a-half-year waitlist) and am now having trouble breaking into the trade -- due to lack of hands-on experience and general concern that me being a woman will create difficult work politics. It won't -- I'm not some raging PC activist, and I'm here to work, not to sweat the small stuff. My partner is a construction worker, I've heard/seen it all.

I've applied not only for apprenticeships but also for "helper" positions, and even proposed a temporary job-shadow situation (working for free) in order to gain experience but have been turned down time and again. Big companies, small companies... HOW can I get some field experience? I've done some basic household wiring, but what else can I do to get my foot in the door?

Any advice would be really appreciated.


Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#72179 - 11/20/06 09:59 PM Re: advice for newbie?  
dougwells  Offline

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,140
kamloops BC Canada
darn there was a bucn of listings here but the page is be rebuilt by the looks of it.

[This message has been edited by dougwells (edited 11-20-2006).]

#72180 - 11/20/06 10:41 PM Re: advice for newbie?  
e57  Offline
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
Really can speak for the great white north - but don't see gender as a hold back. I have had women under me, (no pun intended...) and as PM's and Owners. Dare I say it - do not fall into the trap of thinking you always have to prove yourself - it annoys everyone.... [Linked Image] And as far as worksite politics - it is not much unlike the military, you will be expected to pull your own weight. I think as long as you make it clear that you can and will, you should not have a problem. You should also note that you are entering the job market in winter - historicaly slow, especially around the Holidays - even in temperate climates like mine in SF, CA resi comes to a halt, and commercial is on slow track. Late winter, and early spring there are a lot of start-ups and people start building crews then. As you have little to no experiance, you would either be better suited on a sizable crew or under the wing of a small shop. Medium sized shops will be looking for journey level labor as they can self-support.... You need to focus at this point on the companies that are looking for bodies or bees. Or the old fat guy that cant fit in a few places anymore... [Linked Image] And willing to teach. Both are out there....

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason

#72181 - 11/20/06 10:49 PM Re: advice for newbie?  
skipr  Offline
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 39
Huntington Beach, Ca.
I'm not sure if I should be touching this thread. But if you want the truth. Gender does matter from what I seen over the last 13 years. Owner's are reluctant to hire female just because it has potential to problems with other workers or whatever.With so many males to choose from, thats usally the way it goes.This is a bottlenecked trade. Many trying to get in, with only a few getting in at a time.

#72182 - 11/20/06 10:57 PM Re: advice for newbie?  
gfretwell  Offline

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,124
You stick to it. There is nothing in this trade that requires a "Y" chromosome. If you don't act like a girl they won't treat you like one.
My wife is a job super for a production buildert and she had a little bit of a problem getting respect in the beginning but this year she was voted the #1 super the trades would rather work for.
Just concentrate on learning your craft, do your job and the rest will follow.

Greg Fretwell

#72183 - 11/20/06 10:57 PM Re: advice for newbie?  
Bill Addiss  Offline
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 3,878

Welcome to ECN.
The following Link was sent to me (about 4 years ago) It is a site started by a Woman Journeyman Electrician in California. There might be some info there that would be of help.

Good Luck,

#72184 - 11/20/06 11:17 PM Re: advice for newbie?  
dougwells  Offline

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,140
kamloops BC Canada
Here is a story from BC

[This message has been edited by dougwells (edited 11-20-2006).]

#72185 - 11/21/06 12:10 AM Re: advice for newbie?  
LoneGunman  Offline
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 141
I have to agree with Skpr on this one. If I were in the position to hire I would not hire a female, yeah I know, it's not fair it's not right but thats the way it is. My problem would not be with the female but the other guys working with her. They get out of line then it's either loose a good Jman or loose money in a lawsuit, I'd avoid dealing with it entirely by not hiring females.

I've worked with females in the military and the trade and had bad experiences with both. In the military, one complaint whether it's true or not you are basically screwed. In the trade I worked with two females, neither one could load their vans with 1000' spools of romex, so we got stuck doing it most mornings, if you make the same pay as me you should be able to do the same work.

Now that you think I'm a female hating neanderthal I'll tell you where I think female electricians would do really well, service departments. For the most part you are on your own in your own van and usually the job requires more brains than brawn, of course we are back at your original problem, how to get your foot in the door to gain the experience needed to work in a service department.

#72186 - 11/21/06 12:43 PM Re: advice for newbie?  
girl germs  Offline
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 26
Victoria, BC, Canada
Wow, thanks for all the replies in such a short period of time! I'm wondering more about what type of experience I should be looking to get and how. I know it's slow season, etc., etc., but IF you were hiring, what would impress you about somebody just entering the trade? What would make you go for it?

Me being a woman, as has been pointed out, matters to some and not to others. I've found it matters to more than I had initially expected, but that's an issue that won't matter so much if I can just get some experience to begin with. And uh.. roughly what does a 1000' spool of romex weigh? I'll get on that. ;D

I think Lone Gunman put it perfectly, most are just worried about a lawsuit. If it helps, I've worked as a civi for the military and it seems that sadly there are alot of BS claims just because they are trying to take the whole "equality" thing so seriously that is no longer in fact equal -- woman cries wolf, yer a wolf, that's it, no questions. I sympathize.

Personally, I don't have to hide behind some stupid harrassment suit, I handle myself thank you, I'm not some socially inept helpless waif. There would have to be something downright forceful involved and it would take a real sick f--- to push things that far.

e57 - thanks for the targetting tips. And the grin. ;D

So, what type of experience can I try to get over the next guy to get into this? PLC programming? Should I try to get in at a motor/controls shop for awhile? What is going to put me ahead.

#72187 - 11/21/06 01:02 PM Re: advice for newbie?  
Zapped  Offline
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 482
Huntington Beach, CA, USA
Hi germs, and welcome to the trade! It would be nice to see more women in the field. The few that I have seen tend to be very good at what they do and try a little harder - just ot prove themselves if nothing else.

My advice is to get in ANYWHERE that will give you ANY hands-on experience. You say your partner is in construction - maybe that will help you get into a jobsite - even as a helper. Residential, industrial, commercial - whatever will get you some hours in the field with some wire in your hands. Even being on a job site as general labor will give you a chance to network with whomever is on site as the EC. This could lead to prospective job placement opportunities, especially if they can see that you are a hard worker.

A motor shop may give you some hands-on wiring experience, but I don't see it helping you much as far as elecrical application. That seems more of a manufacturing type thing, unless you plan on specializing in motor control later as an electrician.

Basically, get what you can where you can get it, and best of luck to you!

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