According to Fletcher, Climbing School served as both a venue to practice some of the skills he and Simmons have learned so far, as well as an opportunity to network with other local apprentices and learn from industry experts outside of the Co-op.
“It helps us get familiar with our climbing techniques and get comfortable with our tools, like the gaffs, the belt and things like that,” Fletcher says. “It was nice to talk to other guys from different companies – see how they do things different than us – and get pointers on different things they might do on a job. The instructor was very knowledgeable about things that happen out on the job in real-world experiences.”
Both Fletcher and Simmons began their careers at DEC in the metering department as cable locators. Last year, they made the decision to switch over to a different side of operations – linework. For Fletcher, the idea was spurred by a conversation he had with his Godbrother, who encouraged him to pursue a career as a lineworker.
“After we talked, I looked it up and it looked like an interesting job,” Fletcher says.
For Simmons, her choice to make a career move was motivated by a love of the outdoors and the opportunity to test herself in a new field.
“I like being outside, and I just like the challenge of the work,” Simmons says.
When asked about what advice they have for upcoming apprentices, both Simmons and Fletcher offer simple but effective pearls of wisdom – be open-minded and always ask questions.
“Take pieces of what everyone says and make it your own,” Simmons says.
Fletcher adds, “There is a lot of different ways to do different things. One’s not better than the other, necessarily. One’s not right or wrong. There is a lot of different ways to do the stuff that we do out here.”
According to corporate training manager Tim Kerstetter, Fletcher and Simmons are performing well in their apprenticeships, and he looks forward to their future as DEC lineworkers.
“They are great assets to our department. Both are really demonstrating competency, both did really well at their Climbing School and they are working with operations training supervisor Phil Collison every week,” Kerstetter says. “They’re doing an excellent job and we are pleased they joined the Operations Team.”
The DEC lineworker apprenticeship is a five-year program centered around four years of academic training completed through the Northwest Lineman College, with an additional year of Co-op on-the-job field training to attain journey level status as a lineworker.
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