Apprenticeship Week: Q&A with Journey Worker Paul Black and Apprentice Ricky Spinosa
We’re celebrating National Apprenticeship Week all week long here at Optimation! As a part of our celebration, we’re featuring interviews from one Optimation apprentice and one of our skilled journey workers each day this week. It’s a chance to get to know some of our employees a little better, learn about the apprenticeship experience firsthand, and learn some wisdom from the folks who are fully immersed in their careers.
Next up, Project Manager Paul Black and Welding Apprentice Ricky Spinosa!
What trade did you enter? Electrical
When did you start your apprenticeship? I didn’t actually start with an apprenticeship; I went to Alfred Trade College from ’74-’76. Then I was hired at Kodak.
What made you want to pursue a career as an Electrician? At that time, when I was a senior in high school, one of the guys my father rode back and forth to Kodak with was an electrician for Kodak. So, they got to talking, and asked if it was something I’d be interested in, and I said yeah. I had no clue what I wanted to do. I had to go to RIT my summer year after I graduated to take a course on how to study and take notes, because I never did in high school, haha!
How did your career progress after you finished trade school? The last five years at Kodak, I started to get into construction management. Then when we were sold and became Optimation, I was more or less in charge of the electrical service trucks, because I did that at Kodak Park for years, and then from there, I became the electrical job superintendent. Then from there, I got into project management.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from a coworker or mentor? Your first impression is the lasting one. If you walk into the job on your first day and you did the best you could, you finish the job and proactively ask what else you can do … if you go in with the attitude that you want to work, they remember that. If you walk in as a screw-up and then change, they will always remember you as a screw-up. No matter what you do.
How can the next generation of apprentices be successful? They can be successful just by coming in and wanting to learn, wanting to do the work. Set the phone aside and pay attention. Have conversations, ask, because no question is a dumb question when you’re trying to learn. The more you can ask, the more you can learn, the better off you’ll be. The electrical trade is a constantly growing trade, especially in the electronics part of it – motor controls or any of that stuff … it changes daily. You need to be able to be current, otherwise you’ll get left behind. The more versatile you are, the better.
What trade are you learning? Welding
What year are you into your apprenticeship? 3rd
What got you into welding? I just like the trades, and college wasn’t for me. So I tried a few things and welding was the most interesting.
Was there anything about the apprenticeship that you didn’t expect? It’s pretty much what I expected. It was a little difficult getting used to some of the machines and heavy equipment.
What’s your favorite part of your apprenticeship so far? I would say just making stuff from the drawings. Seeing it come to life in front of you.
What’s your favorite project so far? Apeel. The background of it and what they do with the equipment we made and the final product.
What goals or plans do you have once you finish the program? Not really sure yet, I just know that I want to keep doing this work.
What is the best advice that you’ve received from an Optimation coworker so far? I would say about safety. Always look at things in a couple of different ways and make sure you’re doing your work as safely as you possibly can.