Pre-Apprenticeship for a Go-Getter

I’m 18 and finishing my senior year at New Lexington High School. In the fall, I enrolled in the combined carpentry and electrical class because I thought I might want to be a carpenter. But carpentry didn’t feel like a good fit. One day during class, Daryl Jones from the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) visited to tell us about the electrical trades and the pre-apprenticeship we could do in the spring semester. It sounded like a great career path for me.

I started to learn more about the benefits of becoming an electrician—about the great pay and benefits and the different opportunities available if you fully commit to this path. I loved it. I was the second person to finish my online credential coursework to be eligible for the pre-apprenticeship, and the local union instantly placed me at a job site helping set up the new Facebook data center near Columbus.

Five days a week, I work on a team of six people—journeymen electricians and another pre-apprentice who is a friend, with a foreman overseeing us—doing a lot of the physical work to lay out the electrical setup for the data center. We’re running conduit for the buildings that will be built, and we’ll eventually be running wires through the dirt to connect to the buildings. Everything is being built from the ground up, so it’s a lot of work.

I have great relationships with my team. My friend—the other pre-apprentice—and I carpool to work every day, and we are learning so much from the journeymen who have been mentoring and guiding us since we started. We learn by watching them, but they also let us do some things, helping us every step of the way, so we get hands-on experience. They don’t hesitate to help us or to explain everything that we’re going to do before we even get started, so I really feel comfortable working with them.

I’m really seeing how both the carpentry and the electrician classes helped prepare me for this job. When I took the electrician course, I didn’t realize how much of what I was learning would actually translate to what I’m doing now. I haven’t pulled wire yet, so I’m not calculating figures like we learned in class, but I’m already using what we learned about safety. And in the carpentry class, I was able to get my OSHA 10 card, which I need for this job.

When I get home from work, I still have school—I’m finishing my high school requirements online. After I graduate, I hope to be accepted into the IBEW’s apprenticeship program and start electrician school one day a week while still working. One day, I would love to have my own business and be able to hire my own crew. But I’m very happy where I am, working my way up to being a journeyman and getting as much knowledge as I can.

This year was my first CTE experience, and it has been a much better fit for me than the college-going path that other kids are on. I’m a go-getter, and I want to get my life planned out and started as quickly as possible. Now I have a great job where I’m getting paid well for my age and earning a pension already. As I work my way up this pathway, I’m going to be making more money than a lot of other kids who graduate college with student debt.

I would definitely encourage other high school students to pursue a CTE pathway, even in ninth or tenth grade. Learning a career that can start you out well in life and that pays you while you’re learning is amazing.

–Chase Dumolt, senior, New Lexington High School

American Educator, Spring 2024