I'm going for my interview with the union this week to hopefully get picked for an apprenticeship. I'm just wondering if anyone has been through the process before and can offer any tips or suggestions. They give you basic ideas like not to show up wearing dirty clothes or act like a jerk, but this is my future so I guess I want to make sure if there are any other bases I can cover that I do it. Thanks!
I've been through it, and unlike CT's comments having a referral was not a factor - I had none.
Here's some tips: - You will be nervous, but never let them know that - Be on time. Construction is all about being punctual. - Be polite (but not to the point where you have a brown nose). - Be sincere. If asked if you have bent 4" RGS is a ditch, but you have only bent 3/4" EMT is an open warehouse say that. - Dress accordingly. A suit and tie is NOT required. Some applicants will be wearing Sunday best, others have a job to goto after the interview. Somewhere in-between is best..."1 step over what is required for the job" is what I had someplace.
They will probably ask you:"Why do you want to be an electrcian?" Have an answer ready for that one.
I should clarify my position: I am NOT a union member and don't represent their interests. I ended up passing on my spot in their program.
So I am not trying to discourage you. Just keep in mind that it's very hard to get into the union when times are tough like they are now, and having a referral can make all the difference.
When construction was booming in the late 90's' early 00's, the union was taking anyone they could get. Now that work is slow, it may be even harder as many locals have many people out of work. They will be hesistant to take on even more apprentices.
duluth Can't comment on the union thing, but as an ex-apprentice and an ex-manager hiring staff for UK Government, I can say you already have some good advice from the others- Don't be late! Arrive clean, shaved, neat clothes, sensible hair. No need to go over the top with clothes, but clean shoes and nails are important. Go to bed early night before so you're awake and recharged. DON'T SMELL OF BEER!- so NO CHUG night before! Turn Mobile off. Be interested, concentrate on what's being said, because you must think on your feet and be ready for the surpises that happen at interviews. Have some sensible questions ready, like "what training will I get". "Why do you want to be a ******" is THE Standard Question, so have your answers thought out. Most important is to act polite, adult and reliable- no one wants to hire anyone who appears irresponsible or immature.
I was accepted to the union in '91. Work was slow and the amount of work continued to decline throughout the late 90's. '97 and '98 (when I "topped out") were the worst - until now, where it is equally horrible. Apprentices have the benefit of being "cheap labor" and generally in demand - BUT, I have heard of instances where NO apprentices were accepted in a given year due to a grim economic forecast (either present or anticipated).
In NJ, the earlier part of '00 to early '04 were considered a "boom" period. The past year has seen a decline in the number of major new projects coming up. However, the iron workers hall is a "walk through" - which means there is lots of steel going up. This is evident in some areas. One of the largest projects that has been given a "green light" (was just issued the final permit of acceptance by the Army Corp. of Engineers) is the Xanadu Mills project.
There are also many other large projects that will be starting in the foreseeable future. All will have a bearing on the national electrical(and construction markets). In my opinion, the largest will be the rebuilding of lower Manhatten. Other large projects that could contribute to a rosy work picture: - Newark, NJ ~ Stadium - NYC ~ Stadium - NYC ~ Olympic bid for 2012
Union or non-union (and this thread is not meant to start the "great debate"), the economic future for an electrcian looks pretty good. The federal site listed above states: "Employment of electricians is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2012". By "faster than the average" they indicate an INCREASE of 21 to 35 percent - which is good for EVERYONE. What one sector does not pick-up, the other will - the demand will be there.
It would seem that now is a good time to be a sparkey - or become one!
My advice: Even if NOT accepted, go work for someone in this field. I started out in a "non-union" shop - and worked in many for many years. I learned a lot in those years. The "classification" I had then would be considered a "residential wireman" (Class B). The work I do for the union, now, is mostly industrial and commercial (Class A). Much of what I was taught as a "B" guy is what I apply to my contracting business, now - and that is fine with me. I was NOT taught any residential wiring through the union...the union DOES have a B program, but I was accepted into the A program.
You can never know where this business will take you - in 1985 as I pondered the differences between a red wire nut and a yellow wirenut, I would have NEVER thought I would be changing navigational lights on a bridge over the Hackensack River 110' in the air(1990) or splicing a 35kv cable (no wire nuts required...LOL) in 2005!
Thanks for the replies guys. To Johnb, I am from Duluth, Minnesota, so since you aren't going to be competition I'll wish you good luck (ha ha)since we are going through the same thing. I'll let you know what happens with mine so that you can have a heads up. CTwireman, I've heard the whole 'it's who knows you' thing many times. It definitely doesn't hurt like you said. I try to keep it all in perspective with the fact that whether it ever happens or not, their bare minimum requirements are finishing high school and having algebra. Alan, thanks for the eye contact idea, its one of those things you don't actively think about and can easily give someone a bad feeling about you if you're looking at the floor, for a variety of reasons. Celtic, I've heard it said that as an apprentice I'll have a job, and then when you make journeyman is when the layoffs come. I'm glad to hear that in your neck of the woods jobs are going to be booming. It's supposed to be pretty good up here for the forseeable future. As to why I want to be an electrician.....isn't the answer always 'doesn't everybody?'