What a fabulous week of celebrating Apprenticeships! If you've been following along, we've shared an interview with a journey worker and an apprentice at Optimation each day. Each one gave a different answer to the same questions I've been asking all week. We had a breakfast with our apprentices on Wednesday, celebrating them for making an investment in themselves, Optimation's future, and manufacturing's future. We're truly fortunate to have the best group of apprentices out there. Happy National Apprenticeship Week!
For our final interviews, E&I Mechanic and Tool Crib Manager Prudy Dalesio and Pipefitting Apprentice Sean DeNeef!
What trade did you enter? Electrical
What year did you start your apprenticeship? '82-'85 and then a couple of years of night school for instrumentation.
What made you want to pursue a career as an electrician? I was working in a nonprofit job, which I loved, but the pay was not very good. I knew people who had come through the apprenticeship program at Kodak and it piqued my interest. I love learning, I can’t learn enough. And I got to work with a crew of wonderful classmates and mechanics.
How did your career progress after graduation? I worked as an E&I mechanic for many years. The projects started getting larger, with more responsibilities, which I’m happy to have. Then I came to Optimation and continued to work as a field mechanic until about four years ago, when I was asked to be in charge of the tool crib.
What have you enjoyed about your career? I love details, I love seeing things out until the end and making sure that they’re neat and a pleasure to look at when they’re finished. And that they’re correct. In my job now, I love seeing people all the time. I love the apprentices. I have to sometimes instruct them on different things, but I love the young kids.
What’s the best piece of advice that you received from a coworker or mentor? Learn as much as you can. There are many ways to do the exact same thing. Find out what works best for you and use it to your advantage. You’re only going to learn more by making mistakes. Just try to keep in mind what you did learn from that mistake and use it the next time around.
What excites you about the next generation of apprentices? Their energy. Their way out-of-the-box thinking that some of them have. And their sense of humor is very much a part of my day.
How would you say that they can be successful? Just try to do your best. I was told once, it doesn’t take a lot more time to do something the right way, then to hurry up and make it a half-good job.
What trade are you learning? Pipefitting
What year are you into your apprenticeship? 1st year
What made you want to pursue a career as a pipefitter? My father-in-law was a pipefitter, and it interested me … the bigger stuff and challenges you face. I went to BOCES for auto mechanics. I was a mechanic before I came to Optimation.
What do you like about the program so far? I really enjoy it. I learn a lot. I face a lot of challenges, trying to figure out how to run pipe and make it look good.
Anything about the apprenticeship that you didn’t expect? No, not really. Everyone was pretty straightforward with what to expect when I started. I had talked to a few other pipefitters about it before starting.
What goals or plans do you have for after you finish the program? I haven’t really thought that far ahead yet. Right now, I’m just focusing on the graduating part.
Favorite or memorable project so far? I’ve worked on a confidential process piping project the most. I’m in a chemical plant right now. It’s a lot of different pipe. Challenging spaces. It makes you use your head a lot – think ahead.
What’s the best advice you’ve received so far from one of your Optimation coworkers? I remember Ron Meulendyk told me that I will learn something new every day. He said that he’s been doing this work for over 30 years and he still learns something new every day. And that’s true. I don’t like to be bored; I like to learn new things as often as possible.