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I’m about to start an apprenticeship program in Montana. Please let me know your best advice for someone starting out at an older age.
 

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I’m about to start an apprenticeship program in Montana. Please let me know your best advice for someone starting out at an older age.
I became an apprentice at 46 and did fine. You will too. You already are more focused and caring than the 18 year olds. The j-men will treat you with more respect. Just do your reading and homework and everything a j-man tells you to do. In a few years you will be commanding your own apprentices.
 

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How old are you? That may or may not be helpful.



Background?


Number one thing is pencil/pen and notepad. Always write things down so you don't have to ask. When finished run down the task with who assigned it to you quickly to make sure you didn't miss anything.
I just turned 43 in January. I have mostly worked in Restaurants. Bar tending, Cooking, and management. For the last 6 years I have been working in manufacturing making backpacks, team leading and working in a warehouse. I have also some construction experience and have done plenty of manual labor.
 

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Trained Monkey
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I just turned 43 in January. I have mostly worked in Restaurants. Bar tending, Cooking, and management. For the last 6 years I have been working in manufacturing making backpacks, team leading and working in a warehouse. I have also some construction experience and have done plenty of manual labor.

Think about how your skills that you have already can cross over.



1) Write everything down
2) Optimum carry, never have an empty hand. If you are heading somewhere and you're done with a material or tool take it back.
3) Be knowledgeable, know the names of the material you need, the location, the amount you will need.


Be quiet, listen, learn, always be willing to work.
 

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As a rank apprentice you should -- as fast as possible -- learn our trade's vocabulary.

You can easily do this in your spare time by 'shopping' at Big Box Hardware -- take your camera.

I say this because it's VERY common for a newbie to be tasked with fetch and carry. You want to impress everyone as though you've been working with die-cast set screw connectors and couplings all your life. You don't want to be in the embarrassing position of constantly asking -- "What's a XXXX?"

In real life, an apprentice I knew wasted 40 minutes trying to find a 1/2" set-screw connector. 200 of them were staring him in the face. He was too ashamed to tell his lead he had absolutely no idea what they looked like. Naturally his boss was totally disgusted.

If you really want to cheat, buy a bender and learn to bend 3/4" EMT on your own dime. Don't get fancy. Just learn to bend 90-degree bends. Every job produces scrap EMT. Snag some and bend it at home -- out doors, of course.

Buy your own copy of Ugly's. It's about $20 at any supply house. It's crammed with the details we use every day. A couple of pages lay out our trade's symbols: receptacle, outlet, disconnect,... While your foreman// lead man will layout what's necessary -- it's nice to be able to read the prints, yourself, as soon as possible. Doing so makes you look much more professional.

Another terrific study aid are OLDER NEC Handbooks... not Codebooks. These can be had all the time on eBay -- even Amazon. They go for cheap. They're out-dated. BUT, they illustrate how field wiring used to be installed. They have lots of diagrams, tables, and explanations for why the Code is the way it is. As a newbie, you need this level of detail.

( You want hardbound, BTW. PDFs just don't cut it.)

Make sure your Personal Protection Equipment is totally squared away. Your required PPE will be made evident right away -- jump on it.

Your biggest outlay: boots. Go for comfort, not economy. Your boots will be your number one tool. They keep you walking.

While not usually mandated, you must invest in working gloves. One pair will be full bodied... feeder pulls, rough work, ditching.

One pair must be tip-less. Look for these at Big Box Hardware. For outdoor work in Montana -- you have to have both.

As previously posted: have a pen and pad -- with back-ups -- as you can't lose your ability to take notes.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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Get or stay in shape, a lot of bull work when starting.
The most important thing about getting in shape, if you're overweight, is to lose weight. You can work yourself into shape to an extent but if your overweight it won't just make you tired it will beat up your joints etc., everything the ground up, feet, knees, back, everything.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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As a rank apprentice you should -- as fast as possible -- learn our trade's vocabulary.

You can easily do this in your spare time by 'shopping' at Big Box Hardware -- take your camera.

If you can, get your hands on some of the manufacturer's catalogs - PDFs are on their web sites, but you can get printed copies for many brands at electrical supply houses. They aren't exactly exciting reading but you can just flip through them to familiarize yourself with things. Bridgeport Fittings, Arlington International Fittings, Erico - Caddy (now part of nVent), etc.



If you can get a copy of the American Electrician's Handbook, it's like an encyclopedia, it's good to flip through as well.



There's a good old book called "Wiring Simplified" that's not a bad starter book, should not be hard to find, they might even have it at Home Depot.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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And just to reinforce with repetition, as others said, keep something on hand to jot notes with at all times, following detailed instructions accurately can be a challenge and it's extremely important.
 

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Show up on your time, leave on theirs. READ, everything about electrical you can get your hands on. Work smart, not hard, plan your work accordingly. Keep a good attitude, sometimes it may be hard to do, just fake it, it's what foremen notice most. And appreciate.
 

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The most important thing about getting in shape, if you're overweight, is to lose weight. You can work yourself into shape to an extent but if your overweight it won't just make you tired it will beat up your joints etc., everything the ground up, feet, knees, back, everything.
I know some disagree but you really are what you eat. If you're overweight cut back on the food/drink, it's the only way. Lifting weights/exercise will make you stronger, not lighter. Warm up and stretching is import to do every chance you get. It's that one time you reach too far, or over extend and something pops or rips. Next thing you know you're off work a couple of weeks.
 

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Look for something like this in your region, might be a bit of a hike to find one for Montana. Lots of free stuff and admission is free too. These salesman are looking for newbies just like you. The food/drink is great too, while they try to get you interested in their product. Because their product is the best :rolleyes: Only happens once every 3-years and this is a year "2020"
https://www.ncel.org/expo.html
https://www.elecsupport.com/events/ebmi-electrical-expo
 

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I’m almost 46 and just starting myself so your not alone. If you haven’t done it before or aren't 100% sure ask enough questions to make sure you fully understand. Journeymen hate when an apprentice doesn’t ask when they don’t fully understand the task then mess something it up than it takes a lot of time to redo or repair.
 

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Stay humble (without being a doormat), keep your phone in the car, show a willingness to learn, show up on time, stay late if needed, keep your phone in your car, and keep a positive attitude.



Oh and keep your phone in your car. You'll be alright.
 

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I’m about to start an apprenticeship program in Montana. Please let me know your best advice for someone starting out at an older age.
  • Stay off of your phone, Work hard, don't be afraid to get dirty and go home tired every single day.
  • Always have a head for organizing and housekeeping.
  • If you ever get a shot at paperwork, take it.
  • Always have a pencil and a pocket-size notebook on you.
  • Learn to anticipate your journeymen needs the way a surgical nurse supports a surgeon.
  • Ask questions but don't be a PITA
  • If two journeymen or a foreman and a journeyman are having a conversation, don't lurk, give them space and stay within earshot.
  • Do not gossip or be part of any gossip.
 
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