Brian Lechan

2022 Residential and Commercial Electrician Graduate
Electrical Apprentice at S&W Electrical Contractors, Inc.

Having trained in MTTI’s electrical program, and apprenticing at S&W Electrical, Brian is building a financially stable future. Meeting Brian, upbeat and optimistic, you would be surprised to learn that he lives with pain from the trauma of childhood domestic violence. Brian hopes his story will help others find strength in having survived trauma, and recognize they have the power to redirect the course of their lives.

Turning 40, it felt a little crazy to go back to school to change careers.

I have responsibilities–bills upon bills to pay. For years, I had a musical career—I earned an audio engineering degree, had my own studio, put out my own music and was a customer service manager for a large guitar center. Even though I was an artist and music lover, working in the music industry no longer felt fulfilling. It was time for a change.

I had confidence that at MTTI I would get a great electrical education.

My brother, Chad, graduated MTTI’s Computer Tech / Network installer program, and was doing well in his career. He encouraged me to look online at the training programs the school offers. I’ve always liked science—and electricity is science. As an audiovisual engineer, I had been sent to hotels around the country to run wires and set up stages, lighting, and cameras before a show. Different from what an electrician does, I understood signal flow, cabling and something about how electricity works. I’ve built electric bikes. Feeling lost while laid off during the pandemic, riding my electric bike felt good.

I wanted a high demand career, in which I would always have work and room to grow.

After the pandemic, I might have returned to management at the guitar center—they wanted me back. But as a survivor of domestic violence, a sales environment is toxic for me. Trauma trains you to understand human behavior patterns as a means of self-defense—I was great at reading body language, which made me good in sales. Because my nervous system is always in survival mode–on high alert—the additional stress of having to make sale after sale was overwhelming.

Not the best student in the class, work maturity moved me to the head of the pack.

My instructor, John, was energetic and made classes fun. He held us to a high standard. He taught us like he was our foreman, so that we would know what employers expect of apprentices, and how to conduct ourselves professionally. The reason I get to work at 5:30 am when we start at six is because of John—he instilled that work ethic in me.

MTTI helped me find an apprenticeship with S&W–a great company where I can thrive.

I had worried whether, at the program’s end, I would have the right job. I am really grateful to Shawn; he knew my personality and chose to send my resume to a company in which he knew I would do well. Choosing the right school has been a significant financial investment. I wouldn’t have had that personalized job assistance if I hadn’t gone to MTTI.

A few months out of school, I know more than most apprentices who have been there two years.

Hands-on in the shop each day reinforced what we learned in the classroom. Learning electrical code and how to do things the right way gave me a solid base of knowledge. The first day on the job, I stayed confident, working off of what I had learned at school. Within a few weeks, the Foreman said, “Brian, you’re running the second floor.” A bit nervous about having to oversee other apprentices, as I showed I could handle it, I was given more and more responsibility.

Working hands-on as an electrician is rewarding physically.

My brother talks about going to the gym after work. I’ll send him pictures of these giant cable rolls I move around on the job. It’s like going to the gym all day. I like not sitting at a desk all day. Being active also helps moderate the bodily pain I live with. The fear I experienced as a child, anxiously waiting for the next blow, rewired my brain and lodged in my body. At work, when I feel pain, I breathe my way through it, and remember to straighten my posture. It feels good to push through that pain to accomplish the electrical tasks.

Electrical work is not just pulling cables.

Every day I get to solve new puzzles. My Foreman says, “Brian, we trust you. Figure that out.” They give me an idea of how to do the job and show me what they want—then let me do it. Electricians do a lot of critical thinking and problem solving.

Having a stable job—and being able to live in a safe place—is huge.

At one time I didn’t think I would live to 40. I’ve done a lot of work with professionals to recover from trauma. Now, waking up each day at 3 am, even the long drive to work has become a ritual that gives my life a welcome consistency. Working at a job I enjoy minimizes stress in my life and helps me relax. I may be physically tired at the end of each day, but unlike sales, I am not mentally and emotionally drained. I have a lot more energy.

They call musicians ‘starving artists’ for a reason.

As a musician I loved being an artist, but I lived on ramen noodles to make ends meet. The more I learn about electricity, and hone my skills, the more electrical work becomes my art. Solving electrical problems is creative for me—and I’m able to support myself, afford a new car, buy a house. The freedom in feeling I can depend on myself is worth its weight in gold.

I’m sacrificing today to invest in the ‘future me’.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it—going back to school at 40 was one of the most challenging things I’ve done. I saved money for a few years, lived in my mother’s basement, and used up my savings during the time I was in the program. Starting over in a new career, it will take time before I make really good money. But licensing as a Journeyman after completing four years of apprenticeship will make all of my efforts to change careers worthwhile.

A growing company, S&W offers multiple career paths for my future.

S&W Electrical Contractors, Inc. is a full-service Electrical Construction firm specializing in Electrical Consulting, Design – Build, and Installation services for all phases of residential and commercial electrical construction. I have the option to work in the field, and in the future transition to something in the office. As an electrician, I have a career I can work in for life, and a great company to grow with. Years from now, I will happier than if I had stayed in the music industry.

You have to take a risk to earn the reward.

Everyone has their personal struggles. There’s always going to be a reason why you think you can’t go back to school or change careers. The hardest part for me was just deciding to do it. Making the call. Taking the tour. Getting past worrying about the money or whether the course might be too difficult for me. Finally saying, ‘Yes, this is what I want to do!’ No one is going to do it for you. If you don’t make the change, you’ll be stuck where you are. You owe it to yourself to make your life better and make yourself happier. Until you do, you can’t even imagine the joy you’ll feel!

Spotlight Photo at Top: Matt Silvia, Brian Lechan, Joe Dowling, Brian Washburn at S&W Electrical Contractors

All photos taken at S&W Electrical Contractors, Inc., Brdgewater, MA