My electrical career started in August of 2012. I had been looking online to find a career path that would be both beneficial and interesting to me. I have always been around the construction industry and was searching online to find a school to further my education when I found the F.E.A.T. (Florida Electrical Apprenticeship Training) program offered through Orange Technical College. I thought this looked like a great opportunity.
The next day, I visited the F.E.A.T. office at the Orange Technical College – Mid Florida Campus (then known as Mid Florida Tech) and spoke to a person named Jamie Fugate; she was very helpful and gave me a list of contractors to apply to. This was the start of the greatest thing that ever happened to me!
After some looking, I began working locally for Heron Electric. As part of the apprenticeship program, I went to classes two nights a week at the OTC – Mid Florida Campus, while working full-time at my new job at Heron. I learned First Aid and CPR in my first semester, along with OSHA and many other useful safety trainings which are held every week as safety talks. I also learned to bend conduit and many other useful skills which helped me progress quickly in my career.
By my second year, my company gave me a truck, selecting me over a man who had over 16 years’ experience, but because he did not know how to read prints and size overcurrent protection, I was put in charge. This was all thanks to the residential wiring class and commercial wiring classes I took at OTC.
Things were running smoothly until the middle of my second year when the recession hit. We were getting slow and I had to make a move to Tri-City Electric. During my work with Tri-City, I worked at Disney Springs doing area development and switchgear. Not long after moving to Tri-City, I was moved to a lead position due to the excellent training that I was receiving through the F.E.A.T. program.
At that time as a third year apprentice, being a lead person for a large company like Tri-City made me very proud. Sometimes I would be confused on the job, but when I came to class we would have discussions about different tasks apprentices are facing on a daily basis. This helped me become a better leader on the job site.
In 2016, I completed the F.E.A.T. program with a 97.86% overall grade and perfect attendance. Soon after, I decided to take the journeyman prep class which is offered to all completers of the F.E.A.T. program. The class helped me pass the final journeyman exam on the first try with a 94% overall grade! Now that I was a journeyman, I was offered a foreman position for Tri-City to help with the construction of Star Wars in Hollywood Studios.
When I look back, if not for all the training that I received throughout the program, especially pertaining to the mechanics of electrical components, I would never be where I am today. I can troubleshoot an electrical circuit, install electrical equipment, read blueprints, manage a jobsite, and much more due to my education with the Florida Electrical Apprenticeship Program and Orange Technical College. My only regret is that not everyone is aware of what a great opportunity this is to be debt-free and earn while you learn in a great rewarding career. Can you really ask for more?
In closing, because of the great opportunity that was afforded to me by the F.E.A.T. program, I was drawn to education and am now the coordinator (and instructor) of the same great program that gave me career success! Along the path, I have met lots of great friends, become a respectable and proud Electrician, and most of all, became financially independent and able to comfortably provide for my family. What more could I ask for?