After graduating, I shipped off to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for Boot Camp. At Fort Eustice, Virginia, I learned to repair and maintain helicopters, including the electrical components. Following an Honorable Discharge, I looked for a program in which I could train for a career.
I earned a Certificate of Completion at the National Aviation Academy Airframe and Powerplant School in Concord, Massachusetts. Although I enjoyed learning to work on aircraft, the lifestyle of an aviation mechanic didn’t appeal to me. Many companies have you follow the aircraft from location to location, riding with that plane and doing the inspection when it lands. It was expensive to test for the license, and I didn’t have the drive to do it. I couldn’t see myself doing this for life. I missed the wiring and electrical work I had done in the Army.
Working part-time as a construction laborer and a manager in food service, I didn’t feel either was a career path for me. The sign outside MTTI read ‘Residential and Commercial Electrician Program Enrolling’. Immediately after seeing the sign, I heard the commercial for MTTI’s Electrician program on the radio. I thought, ‘This must be a sign for me’.
In the classroom, I saw the instructor, ‘KD’ (Kevin Dacosta), and the people who would be my classmates. I enrolled, took the text books home, and read the whole first Chapter. Beginning the program on the second day of class, I was one step ahead.
The way the course was organized made it easy for me to learn. We were taught step-by-step how to do electrical work. When I had questions, I explained my understanding to the Instructor, who would confirm that I would be doing a task the right way. Overall, the program information was very in-depth and involved.
Growing up, my Dad had been a math teacher—he even won a Teacher of the Year Award. When he tutored me, I would listen to how he explained things. He wouldn’t give up when I didn’t understand something; he’d explain it four different ways until I got it. When classmates came to me with questions, like my Dad, I broke things down and explained it different ways. Someday I may want to become a teacher. At 25 years old, I can work for 20 years or so and then ‘retire’ from the industry to teach.
He came into the pizza place where I was working. I told him that I had worked on wiring helicopters in the military; he gave me his card. When, at MTTI, we had our first internship/job search day, I called him and delivered my resume to RELCO at 7 am, before the crews left to go to their worksites. The next day, they called me; two days after the search day, I returned to RELCO for an interview.
They waited until I completed classes; on the first day of internship, I was already hired and receiving pay. I gave RELCO a letter from MTTI documenting the hours of education I received in the program. They were surprised to find that I didn’t need to earn additional education to qualify for the licensing exam. I’ll complete the 8,000 hours of work and will only need to take a class when the Code Book gets revised in 3 years.
I made things for use on jobs; for example, temporary power stands and raceways (for mounting on the wall to enclose wiring). I was working with a graduate of a college program, who had paid twice what I paid for tuition at MTTI. In addition to electrical courses, he’d been required to take general education courses. At the completion of his program, he still didn’t have the 600 hours required by the state for licensure; he has to attend electrical classes at night.
Typically an Apprentice stays in pre-fab for about 6 months, to give the company time to find out what he knows–and doesn’t know. The Head Shop Apprentice and five other Apprentices were chosen for a short-term project on Cape Cod, installing 300+ feet of PVC pipe underground, from a house down to the boat dock. The Shop Manager selected me as one of the five.
If you understand the job you are on, you can be pro-active in getting what is needed. The company liked that I responded well when other workers asked for tools, pipe wire or water. The Shop Manager shook my hand and said, “I’m so glad I called you to come on down.” After that, the Shop Manager took me to small side jobs for the company—we would work together, just the two of us. A month later, he told me I would be going out in the field soon. He said. “I’m going to make sure that it happens.”
The renovation includes the whole first floor, 1/4 of the second floor, 2/3 of the third floor plus a penthouse—all while four companies in the building continue their business full-time. RELCO set up an electrical room with panels. We identified every circuit from the main building. As we work, we transfer the building’s power to the temporary transformers we brought in. Most days we start at 6 am—but occasionally we start at 5. We have to pull and transfer the power in less than an hour, to be ready by 7 am when the building tenants arrive at work.
Out in the field, I found that I had learned things at school that I wouldn’t be expected to know until I’d been 3-4 years on the job. It ‘turned heads’ here when the foreman would say, ‘You know how to do this.’ He has given me some pretty big tasks that I have since completed: setting up temporary power for the whole building. It’s great going to the job site knowing all the things I learned at MTTI.
I’m continuing to learn so many things on the job. I’ve enjoyed working with every co-worker I’ve met. RELCO has been working with the same construction company—going from building to building in that area of Massachusetts. The same crew has been working together; they get to know how crew members work—their strengths and weaknesses—so it is easy to divide up the tasks.
You won’t be disappointed. MTTI takes time and care to get to know each student. The classes are smaller, so there is more one-on-one time than at many schools. KD, my instructor, is a great guy—he definitely knows his stuff and is very dedicated to the students. If you ask a question he won’t stop until he finds the answer. He can laugh and joke with students, but he is serious about teaching the work. He’s able to hold 18 students, ranging in age from fresh out of high school to well above thirty, accountable for their performance in the classroom and shop.
I’m thankful to KD for helping us through the program—and to my girlfriend, Chloe, for supporting me. I enjoy knowing how things work—and how to do the work. Looking back, after an electrical job is complete, I feel a sense of accomplishment. The best thing is, electrical work won’t be phased out. There will always be companies hiring in electric—there will always be jobs.
Instructor, Kevin Dacosta (KD) and Brady at graduation.
Brady with KD on the roof at MTTI, inspecting solar panels and inverter
Brady handing a tool to classmate, Shane, as they adjust a solar panel.