Breaking the Mold
Perhaps a high school physics project involving wiring a battery to a light bulb sparked an interest in electricity for Denise Clark, electrical construction and maintenance (EC) student at NMCC. “I thought it was cool.” Denise has studied other programs at NMCC including computer-aided drafting and accounting, but decided she wanted to try something different and pursue the EC program. “I like working with my hands.”
Because she does not have any prior experience in the electrical field, Denise was somewhat apprehensive about entering the EC program. “I was nervous in the beginning.” She reports that her instructor, Todd Maynard, has been very helpful, which has eased her anxiety.
Denise enjoys several aspects of the EC program including practicing her skills in the lab. “I like working on the mock walls and wiring receptacles.” While completing the program requirements to obtain her Associate of Applied Science degree, she will earn her 30-hour OSHA certification as well as her Helper’s license. She will also earn 4,000 hours towards her Journeyman’s license.
In regards to interactions with her instructors and peers, gender is not an issue. “They don’t treat me differently. They don’t cater to my lack of experience or single me out. I’m not special and I appreciate that.”
Denise has attended other colleges in the past and reports having the best experience at NMCC. She speaks highly of the faculty. “The instructors are phenomenal. They know what they are talking about and go above and beyond to help. They are also very accommodating. They want you to succeed.” She also likes how the staff encourage student interaction by offering a variety of activities on campus.
Denise is currently employed as a laboratory aide in the Quality Assurance department at Pineland Farms in Mars Hill. Her goal is to work in the maintenance department, where she can perform more “hands-on” duties. She would like to continue her employment at the production facility when she graduates in May of 2018. She also has other interests in solar power and potentially owning a business someday.
Whether at work or school, Denise demonstrates a strong work ethic and is someone who takes initiative. “I’m a hard worker. I have to be doing something to keep busy.” Denise is also able to manage her time well. She earned a 3.5 grade point average last semester while working and attending school, both full-time, in addition to raising her two children. She offers advice to students who want to be successful in college. “Keep plugging away at it and don’t give up.” Denise also stresses the importance of going to class every day and finds participating in study groups to be helpful.
Denise expressed concerns about females entering a male-dominated field. “Men may question if you know what you’re doing. You need to earn their respect and prove that you know what you’re doing.” Denise proves that you can be feminine and still enter a non-traditional career. “I have pink safety glasses and call my tool bag a tool purse!”
Denise offers advice for females considering a career in electrical construction and maintenance. “Don’t be afraid or timid. It’s not like what you see on television. No one will make fun of you for being in a non-traditional field.”
Install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring, equipment, and fixtures. Ensure that work is in accordance with relevant codes. May install or service street lights, intercom systems, or electrical control systems.
Troubleshooting, repairing, active listening, critical thinking, judgement & decision-making.
2015 National Average Pay
Projected Job Growth: 2014-2024
Source: O’NET Online (2016)
NMCC 2015 EC Graduate Success Rate (Employed, Continuing Education, or both)