Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc.

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A High School Internship Leads to Apprenticeship

Content courtesy of the California Apprenticeship Council

WECA first-year VDV (voice data video) apprentice Tyler Meyer got an intensive preview of apprenticeship while still a high school student, thanks to an innovative after-school program. "ROP was a high school after-school program for construction technology.

It was a class to teach us new ways and new technologies in the construction trade," Tyler explains. "My teacher Steve Dolan got me an internship at WECA. I started being mentored by (WECA Apprentice Instructor and Lab Manager) Jimmie Slemp. Jimmie saw that I quickly became fascinated with electricity. He began showing me basic labs to get me started. After a couple months he started to teach me more theory and more difficult labs. Soon I was bending pipe, wiring motor controls, and after that I was hooked!"

Jimmie Slemp shares how Tyler was chosen for the internship. "I had to interview two ROP students, and choose one. When Tyler walked into the lab, I saw his face light up a little bit, as if he saw the possibilities." Jimmie goes on, "Over time, I became impressed with his ability to figure things out- if he didn't know how to do something, he would find an example of a working model, and he'd just go over and check it out. He took a lot of initiative to ask questions and learn."

WECA VDV Apprentice Tyler Meyer

Commercial electrical work wasn't the only topic to catch Tyler's fascination as he continued with his internship at WECA. He soon became curious about telecommunications as well. "I started talking with (VDV Program Manager and Instructor) Steve Jatala in the halls about where our future was going with technology; it sparked something new in me. Not knowing anything about how a phone worked, or what fiber optic cable was, pushed me to want to learn more about voice and data."

Soon, Tyler got his chance in the growing field of VDV. "I was offered a job opportunity by a great company-- they actually offered me the job before I was even out of high school." He knew he was at a decision point- take this opportunity to become a VDV apprentice, or wait and try to secure an electrical apprenticeship? He had a keen interest in both. But, "I chose the great opportunity that was given to me to go into VDV. Fiber optics has been the most interesting subject to me. Fiber is our future and the things I've learned about it-- what we can do with it and what it's capable of-- are beyond anything I could have imagined. Also, being able splice a tiny piece of glass, and make it push data through it, is just cool to me."

Tyler's transition from high school internship to career-building apprenticeship has been a successful one. Explains Steve Jatala, "Tyler has come a long way. As an intern, he was green and didn't know much, but was always wanting and willing to learn. He has now developed into one of the top apprentices in his class. His hard work and dedication to learn has made him a valuable asset to his contractor and the industry."

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