Kaitlyn Kettner grew up dreaming of becoming a nurse, but the tradeswoman actually started laying the foundation early on for what would be her career as an electrician.
“All my life, I’ve been curious how things work,” said Kettner.
Now 35, the Oregon native has put her checkered past with drugs and a pair of felonies behind her. She’s in recovery and has been sober for three and a half years. “I’m not ashamed of my past… it’s not who I am anymore,” said Kettner. She shares her story in an effort to give others hope.
While attending treatment, Kettner received career support, which led her to attend a women in trades Career Fair at the NECA-IBEW training center. The Clackamas Substance Abuse Program (CSAP) assisted her through the apprenticeship application process. After initially failing the exam on her first attempt, she studied fervently during the six-month waiting period, using resources the training center had provided to improve her math skills.
Despite not having work history in the industry, Kettner was able to gain experience by way of a pre-apprenticeship opportunity that was shared by IBEW Local 48. She left her previous job to participate in the eight-week program, learning in a hands-on setting.
By the time Kettner went into the field as an apprentice for a two-week trial period, she was well-equipped and was officially accepted into the program.
The NECA/IBEW apprenticeship program has given folks like Kettner a chance at developing a career, which is often challenging for those with criminal records. “I was embarrassed to apply at places, because I would get denied due to [my] felonies,” she said.
Kettner feels empowered by the tools the apprenticeship gave her and liberated from the choices she made in the past. Her career has allowed her to buy a house and provide her kids with a comfortable life.
For those wondering if an apprenticeship is the right fit for them, Kettner has some words of encouragement. “There’s people in this industry that want to help you succeed,” she said. She emphasizes that there are plenty of people along the journey who are more than willing to answer questions — both online and in-person. She even joined a Facebook group for the women of IBEW Local 48, a group dedicated to supporting women’s entry into the trades.
The trades are proud to give formerly incarcerated folks a judgment-free second chance at forging a new path.
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 www.nietc.org.