At just 21 years old, Hannah King says she has found her lifelong career. She’s sold on the construction industry – specifically, electrical construction. As an electrical apprentice for CarolinaPower in Greenville, Hannah works full-time during the day, attending classes one evening per week.
Hannah was hired by CarolinaPower last summer after she inquired about the company’s “earn while you learn” career opportunity. Often referred to as “the Other Four-Year Degree,” the company’s rigorous, four-year electrical apprenticeship program teaches the skills for both construction and maintenance electricians.
Hannah is enrolled in the Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program, a partnership among CarolinaPower and five other regional electrical contractors. Registered with the S.C. Department of Labor, the program is administered by the Associated Builders and Contractors of the Carolinas (ABC Carolinas) with classes held at Greenville Technical College.
Hannah is “a walking billboard” for the apprenticeship program and enjoys discussing her career choice with others.
What do you find appealing about your job as an electrical apprentice?
Hannah: I love working with my hands. I started out in CarolinaPower’s prefabrication department and then helped our crew finish up the electrical work on DECA Camperdown, a high-rise apartment complex in downtown Greenville (a Brasfield & Gorrie project). The on-the-job training under our site supervisor has been wonderful. I couldn’t ask for a better training partner to shadow.
What’s a typical day for you at the project site?
Hannah: Every day is different and there is always something new to learn. Each day brings some kind of challenge, but the work is not repetitive. At DECA Camperdown, I was involved in bending pipe, running and pulling wire, and installing receptacles in apartment units. During the resident “move-in” stage, I was assigned to Quality Control – installing lights, making sure punchlist items are complete. I enjoy the classroom time as well. As an employee, CarolinaPower really is a great place to work. It feels more like a family than a workplace.
What did you do right out of high school?
Hannah: I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after high school. I had some interest in construction, having worked a few summers for a family member’s contracting business – mainly remodeling jobs, decks, and other residential work. But I was not aware of any construction-related opportunities when I graduated. I ended up taking a job working on an automotive assembly line. Had I known about opportunities like this one back then, I would have jumped on it.
How did you find out about CarolinaPower and the Apprenticeship Program?
Hannah: I was frustrated with the repetitive work in the automotive industry. One night I happened upon the Electrical Apprenticeship page on Greenville Tech’s website. I reached out to learn more, and the rest is history. There are so many opportunities that exist in the construction industry. High schools, and even middle schools, need to give this type of work more exposure.
What are your career aspirations?
Hannah: There is a lot more to electrical construction than I thought. I also know that women can do this work just as well or better than men. I plan to complete the four-year apprenticeship program, pass the tests to become a certified electrician, and take this journey as far as I can. I see this as a career, not a job.
Hannah is finishing up her first year of coursework this week. The program will start up again in August.