Joel, 20, born and raised in Chandler, AZ, graduated from the RSI Electro-Mechanical Technologies (EMT) program in April 2019.
Thanks for your time, Joel. Tell us what you did after high school.
I went into RSI pretty much straight out of high school. I started at RSI at 18, graduated at 19, and now I’m 20 and enjoying my career as an electrician.
Why did you choose to go to RSI?
I had two jobs, and it wasn’t working out. I had no time. Things were hard. I’m smart, so I knew I had to search for a career, I just didn’t know what. I saw RSI on Facebook; it just popped up out of nowhere, and I put my name and number in. They called me once and I said no. Then they called again and I gave them a try. To be honest, I just went to RSI because I was looking for something. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, didn’t know I was going to work in this heat every day! But I love it!
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Why did you choose the EMT program?
I picked it because I felt I could get two trades from one program. As I got into it, I knew I wanted to be an electrician. I was really good at it. I got the highest grade in my commercial wiring class. They called me “electric boy.” I kind of made a name for myself at RSI.
What did you enjoy most about RSI?
Just the opportunity to have a better future. I’d ride the bus and train to school every day. It took me an hour. But now I’ve got two cars? I’m telling you, everything has changed for me. RSI has totally changed my life for the better. I believed in myself, but now everybody believes in me.
How was your attendance?
I had some personal mental health issues, so I took a couple of months out of school. I had a mental breakdown, but when I came back, I gave it my all. I never missed a day. Everything happens for a reason. I started back where I left off in the program. It was kind of crazy, but I came back. A lot of people wouldn’t have.
Good for you. What shift did you do at school?
I did the morning class, then I’d go to work at a meat market. I’d finish class at 12 p.mm, take the bus and get home about 1:30 or 2 p.m., then go to work at 3 p.m. I’d come out at 10 p.m., got to bed and go back to school early the next day. It was hard, but I’m so glad I went to school.
Where do you work?
I work for Hilty’s Electrical Contracting. I took three weeks off after graduation before I started, but I was eager. I’ve only been here two or three months. They respect me, even though I’m young, because I have a lot of knowledge and I’m a hard worker. I’m in a good position with this job. It’s real hands on.
What are you doing for them?
I’m working at Grand Canyon University now. They are building a new office. I’m running flex conduit. I’m connecting all the lights, all the switches and boxes. It’s just simple electric stuff. It’s easy money.
Are you happy with the money you’re making?
I’ve never had this much money in my life! I’ve been working since I was 15. I’m making double what I made when I had two jobs, and in less time. It has good benefits and insurance, too. I get overtime every check. There’s always work in the electrical field if you’re a good worker.
What did you do with your first check?
Paid bills! I’m helping mom and dad with bills. I’m growing up now, so that’s life, I guess!
What’s your work schedule?
My schedule with Hilty’s is 5: 30 a.m to 2 p.m., so I have the afternoons and weekends to work side-jobs. I’ve started my own company. It’s called Electric Boy, and you can find me on Facebook. I’ve already done a couple of side jobs. It’s just a start. A friend of mine is a crew leader in the union, and he’s my right-hand man.
Where do we see your career taking you ultimately?
My ultimate goal is to build my own business. It’s cool doing this side-work because I’m learning a lot about starting my own company. I’ve learned that the more tools you have, the more qualified you are. I love my tools. I don’t want to be a boss who tells people what to do, I want to be the boss who works with his guys. I’d like to be able to recruit people straight out of RSI. I’d start them off at the bottom and watch them make their way up. That’s just how it is. You’ve got to start somewhere. I also want to invent stuff using electricity, maybe different lights that set different moods outside your home. I have a lot of plans! One of the reasons I went to school is because I want to buy a boat one day!
What do you enjoy most about your new trade?
I’m just good at it. I don’t know what to tell you. Everything just fell into place. I wasn’t really expecting this. No one was expecting this for me. I’m the only electrician in my family. But I do like that electricians are paid good money, and in the construction field, they are the top of the chain. They really are. Going to RSI changed my life and my mom’s life. She’s so happy that I’m becoming someone in life, and that I have big plans.
Are you still living at home?
Yeah, I live with my dad. I’m looking to move out as soon as possible. I plan on being out by the end of this year. I’m going to buy my own little trailer first, and once I’ve paid my school loan off, I will have built up good credit. Then I plan on getting a house. Houses are the money maker now that I’m in the field. I met a guy who buys houses and flips them; he needs electricians to help renovate them.
Did you make some connections at RSI?
Oh yeah. Every now and then they hit me up on Facebook, but I just work and sleep!
What advice do you have for new students just starting out at RSI?
Come to school every day. You have to. I know everyone is raised differently. Not everyone has the same discipline or the same values. The value of a dollar is different to everybody, but you have to have the discipline to come to school every day and put in the work. Anyone who really wants this is going to get it.
If you’re an RSI graduate and would like to share your success story and be an inspiration to others, please email [email protected] to be considered for a Graduate Connection interview. Please include details such as your graduation date (month/year), and program.