Mentorship is vital for union apprentices to succeed in the construction industry and for companies to retain them. The management at Christenson Electric saw that mentorship provided their apprentices a better experience and they started a mentoring program to heighten the connection between all apprentices and experienced leaders.
“Many apprentices feel they do not have a voice,” said Chad Privratsky, project manager at Christenson Electric Inc. Privratsky also leads Christenson’s mentor program, which provides guidance to apprentices through private conversations, work support and leadership development.
“The mentor program was developed to create a higher comfort level with each individual that could become an avenue for ideas, concerns, suggestions and complaints,” said Privratsky.
One of Privratsky’s mentees is Kristina Jones. An eighth-term inside wireman apprentice, Jones has worked at Christenson for four years.
Despite the fact that Jones and Privratsky are not based in the same location (Jones is a member of IBEW Local 48, based in Portland, while Privratsky is a project manager at Christenson in Central Oregon), the structure of the program allows Privratsky to be accessible to Jones when she needs to pitch ideas without fear of repercussions.
“Nobody gets anywhere on their own and I am no exception to that rule,” said Jones. “Having a mentor has given me the opportunity to build a connection with someone who has knowledge and experience that I could not possibly have at this point in my career. My mentor is able to share a broad perspective that I can then choose to influence my thoughts and actions. Trusting and respecting someone who I can reach out to for help makes obstacles less daunting and solutions easier.”
Christenson’s mentorship program has helped Jones focus and deal with issues that arise by providing resources and supportive people like Privratsky. One intangible skill that she honed through mentorship, which has been especially helpful, is reframing how she approaches problems on the job site.
“I still face obstacles on a regular basis, just like anyone in this industry does, but I see them as problem-solving opportunities, which will ultimately lead to growth and understanding,” she said. “There is also peace of mind in knowing I can bring any conversation to the table without repercussions.”
There has never been a better time to prepare for a career that is financially rewarding and personally satisfying. At the nationally acclaimed NECA/IBEW Local 48 Electrical Apprenticeship Training Program, our apprentices learn from the most respected and experienced instructors in the nation’s most technologically advanced facility. Learn more about the apprenticeship program at nietc.org.
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