Elijah Kalib Abraham just completed his first year in the IEC Apprenticeship Program through IEC Atlanta. He is employed by E-TEC Electrical Services, headquartered in East Pointe, GA, working throughout south Georgia and the metro Atlanta area.
“Initially, I wanted to do computer science and engineering, but I kind of realized that sitting around and the schooling part of it wasn’t necessarily for me,” Elijah says. “I first looked at the low voltage side of electrical, but once I started researching it more, I thought I’d enjoy working medium voltage day-to-day. It’s a challenge, keeps me on my toes, and it’s not repetitive. I’m using my brain, problem solving, and utilizing the same concepts for different applications.”
His research uncovered an IBEW program but when he went to one of their offices, it didn’t seem very welcoming to him. A high school counselor brought the IEC apprenticeship program to his attention and he had a totally different experience when he contacted IEC.
“They had information on hand, they asked for my email, they sent me information, and got me set up with my company,” Elijah notes. “Altogether, the experience was so much better.”
Elijah found his first year in the classroom and labs enjoyable and offers that his teacher definitely made things entertaining and engaging. He especially appreciates the structured program, the opportunity to ask questions, and the ability to apply what he learns in the classroom on the job with E-TEC.
“Maybe I won’t be using something from class for a while on the job, but I know where to go when I need it,” he says. “For example, in class we may be reviewing tables in the NEC® that I won’t need immediately, but I will be familiar with them and know where to find them later.”
Share the Story
In March 2023, the high energy apprentice was tapped by his company and IEC to share his electrical apprentice story at the 2023 Construction Ready CareerEXPO & SkillsUSA State Championships in Atlanta. The event drew some 6,600 students; 1,200 teachers, advisors, counselors, and parents; and 1,500 industry volunteers and guests, looking to explore career opportunities across the trades, as well as military and civil service careers like firefighting and police work.
“I was on a panel representing electrical, while others spoke of plumbing, welding, tile, and other construction fields,” Elijah says. “The hall was packed, and I spoke of how and why I chose electrical. I’m in the military so I’m used to having to teach and explain and present myself to a group. This group was huge and threw me for a minute, but then my military mindset kicked in and I told myself ‘Let’s just get it done!’”
In addition to the panel presentation, Elijah and others met in a smaller group setting with a group of counselors who were looking to arm themselves with information to help their graduating high school students understand all options available to them outside of the college route.
“The majority of their questions were about having access to information and about us coming to the schools to represent ourselves so that students know their options,” Elijah says. “Many students don’t know what they want to do and don’t really know how to go about seeking out options. I used the Internet for research, I googled things, I started calling people. But counselors noted that not everybody is as outgoing as that and they need more guidance.
“My thing is you have to have a plan and actually go through with it,” he continues. “I know a lot of my friends didn’t know what they wanted to do. Their answer was to go to college for something generic. They come out with a degree and a bunch of debt. They drop out and they don’t use it, or they finish their degree and don’t use it. They find something else to do later on. You don’t necessarily have to know what you want to do right away. I think you need to look at several areas and build a plan that you can stick with because you enjoy it.”
“Elijah represented himself, his contractor, and IEC in fine fashion to young people looking for careers at this event,” says Todd Hawkins, IEC Atlanta associate executive director of workforce development. “He is a good example for young people in that he considered his future in advance and then took action to make sure that future became a reality.”
It was also enlightening for Elijah to see the SkillsUSA competitions happening on the show floor. He truly enjoyed seeing these various craftsmen at work and knows it had great impact on the high schoolers in the house.
“I saw plumbers putting together little systems, welders putting together different frames, brick layers, and electricians putting together panels and circuits,” he explains.
Multitasking is the Norm
Before pursuing electrical, Elijah completed basic training in the United States Army National Guard in 2021, where he also picked up an interest in heavy equipment operation. Each summer, he attends two weeks of National Guard training, as well as two days of additional training each month as an active reservist.
Last year, Elijah earned his OSHA 10 certification and this year he’s working on that heavy equipment CDL. Since there are still a few hours left in the day, he has been dabbling in real estate where he is building a portfolio of properties he can rent out. He also does stocks and options trading as well as crypto investing.
“I have a lot going on, as I know I have to keep my mind active,” he says.