During national Apprenticeship Week, we’re taking a look inside Ideal Energy’s electrical apprenticeship program and the careers that are reshaping our energy future

Apprentice Spotlight: Mattie Kennedy

Mattie Kennedy is working hard to complete his apprenticeship, and says he enjoys the path he’s taking toward his goals in the electrical and renewable energy fields.

Mattie is looking forward to passing the Journeyman test, as it’ll give him the freedom to work without direct supervision and to help other apprentices learn on the job. He’s excited to see what this forward-thinking field will come up with in the years to come.

Q: So you’re a Wisconsin native – what makes Fairfield your home?

I’m very interested in sustainability and the movements that are developing those technologies, and Fairfield is known for that. I also love the art and culture scene. It can be hard to find such a welcoming community that has the things I’m looking for, but that’s why I like Fairfield.

Q: Was becoming an electrician something that you always wanted to be?

Well, as an adult I actually started out in graphic arts but quickly found out that sitting in front of a computer all day just wasn’t something I could be happy doing. So since construction was my other long-time interest I decided to explore that. I wanted something structured – a structured direction within construction that was realistic and had growth.

Renewable energy is very marketable, there’s policy for it, it’s an industry that’s already established enough to be solid but it’s still evolving. I also very quickly learned while in school that I do not enjoy the policy side – I much prefer the hands-on side. There are so many places to go in this field, and I love that.

Q: Do you have any guidance that you can give to other potential or aspiring electricians out there?

Well, for me you really have to have fun with it. You have to have fun at work.

I like that this is a puzzle to solve – it’s always a puzzle. A puzzle that can be dangerous, honestly, which makes it logical that you have to meet so many qualifications to practice as an electrician.

I’ve found that if you enjoy the people you work with and for, and if you enjoy what you do, that’s what’ll get you through. There are going to be normal days, there are going to be long days, and there are going to be days that seem like they’ll never end. You’re not going to get through those tough days if you don’t actively like what you do. You just won’t – you’re going to hate it. I don’t have that problem, because I love where I am.

Q: It seems like a lot of people put too much pressure on themselves to get a degree just for the sake of getting a degree. Do you see value in that as opposed to pursuing a trade?

I’ve found that people don’t really care about the degree you get unless it’s a really specific field you’re going into. I didn’t know that going into a trade was an option, so I started with a bachelor’s degree, but it didn’t do much for me.

The trade field is so nice because I can go to school part-time, work full-time, and knock out my license within a few years. And no debt! It’s built for success while working, and that makes it much easier and much more realistic for me. I wish trade school was something I’d known about when I was considering my options.

Q: Do you plan to stay in renewables?

Renewables are my favorite for now. If this field develops something that makes more sense or is more efficient, I may move in that direction! But one of my favorite things about renewable energy is that it’s not going anywhere. It’s evolving away from the more antiquated technologies like fossil fuels and old motors, and it’s always changing.

Q: What kinds of exposure and opportunity have you gotten here that you wouldn’t have been able to get elsewhere?

I have been able to work in several areas of the field that helped me determine what I prefer to do. I did some work with the computer “brains” that work the inverters and learned how to troubleshoot them when the need arose. One of those situations where I stepped into a position that wasn’t filled and developed the skills to do what needed to be done.

Because of that, I realized that even though I was good at the troubleshooting and monitoring of systems, it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term, so I trained someone to take that over. Now I’m doing something that really holds my interest.

We’re able to explore so much here at Ideal Energy to find what suits us best – it never gets boring.

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