Raven knew someone who worked for Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 486, so she went there to see what they offered.Raven applied to become an apprentice, took the required math test, and was interviewed. While she waited to be approved as an apprentice, she began working construction as a tool and material handler.
Now in her third year as an apprentice,Raven explains how the program works: “I have a full-time job with KBRwyle at Aberdeen Proving Ground. We maintain equipment, mostly HVAC [heating, ventilation, and air conditioning]. I started out mostly changing belts and filters, but now I am getting a lot more experience fixing the equipment. So I work 40 hours a week, and then also attend classes.”
According to Raven, the classes are twice a week in the evenings and also on some Saturdays. While apprentices are paid for their work and receive full benefits, they are not paid to attend the mandatory classes – but they also don’t have to pay tuition for the classes. They only have to buy books and pay student fees.
Raven says that she thinks that sometimes people who immediately go to work in the trades, right out of high school, don’t really know how good they have it. She says that she really appreciates that she had so many different experiences in high school, college, and beyond to help her know more about what she liked and didn’t like. “It makes me feel more certain and makes me truly appreciate what I have now,“ she concludes.
“That is my advice for younger students…,”Raven says, “experience as much as you can.”
Experience as much as you can
“I see this,” Raven says, speaking of her work, “as what I will be doing for the next 30 years.”
As she speaks, in the background, her 4-month-old son, Everin is stirring. (His name inspired partially by a visit Raven made to the Mt. Everest Base Camp.)
Perhaps Everin is speaking up to remind Raven of what else she will be doing for the next few decades.
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