Congratulations to the 2022 IEC Apprenticeship Essay Contest Winners 

How has becoming an electrician changed or influenced your life and where do you see this career path taking you? That was the question posed to Fourth Year apprentices who opted to participate in the annual contest. Read the winning essays, and we know you’ll feel good about the future of the electrical contracting industry! 


 Grand Prize

Jacob J. Henderson 

IEC Central Ohio 

Roehrenbeck Electric  

The “Electrifying” Story of My Electrical Journey 

Prior to becoming an electrician, I was in college studying English. I’ve always been obsessed with writing and thought that one day I would write professionally. But as I sat in my English classes, I found myself focusing less on what the professor was teaching and more on the debt I was accumulating. 

I realized that I didn’t need a degree to accomplish my writing ambitions and I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars just to learn to write. So I got to thinking about a career that I could see myself enjoying that would make me financially stable while I learned to write on the side. Four years later, I’m here at the IEC writing an essay about how becoming an electrician influenced my life. 

And I must say, becoming an electrician has been a life-changer for me. It has instilled confidence in me that I lacked in the past. It’s given me the confidence to solve problems, the confidence to lead, and the ability to provide for myself and my family. I’ve learned the true meaning of hard work and perseverance and I know those two things will help me grow both professionally and personally in the future. 

As I near graduation, I see this career path taking me onto bigger and better things. Namely, becoming an electrical designer where I can combine my creative and technical side together. That being said, I know the journey isn’t over, in fact, it looks like it’s just beginning. 


First Place   

Ross A. Matney 

IEC Central Ohio 

Romanoff Group 

I briefly tasted this trade when upgrading fixtures and devices at home. I enjoyed learning manual, skill-based work in machining and wood-shop classes during high-school. When I went to college, I lost touch with my love for learning shop-based skills. 

There I was in Idaho. I just earned my bachelor’s degree with plans for the medical field. All of the things I had done in higher education to this point seemed to be short of getting marketable experience. I realized experience was a key to success. I knew I could do the classwork, but never even had the chance at the area I felt I excelled in – working with my hands. Something had to change. 

Through online research, I found the IEC. I was born and raised in Ohio, so that’s where I wanted to be. From the IEC website, I compiled a list of member contractors, and emailed several. Out of the few that responded, only one agreed to hire me contingent on my ability to pass a drug test. I moved my small family and our possessions across country in a single trailer. Four years later, I have a home with over five acres of woods, two more kids, and a steady job with great experience and earning potential. Best of all, the future career path is wide open because I logged credits with a local university through the IEC program. I could not be better off in such a short amount of time than where I am today. 


Second Place

Matthew Dows 

Central PA IEC 


 I needed a change. In my previous “life,” I was a physician assistant. I went to college right after high school; earned multiple advanced degrees and certifications. Worked 60 to 80 hours a week for 15 years and burnt out. Trying to decide what to do next, I looked back at what I loved to do. I worked residential construction during summers when I was in school and have remodeled every house I’ve lived in. I love working with my hands. After some research and soul searching, I decided to become a master electrician. As an electrician, I get to work with my hands and use my brain. There are so many different facets and subspecialties in electrical work, and I push myself to learn them all. Now, I enjoy going to work and my future looks promising. My career path has already taken me to foreman, running large multimillion-dollar projects. As a first-year apprentice, stepping into a large construction site was intimidating four years ago. There are multiple trades with so many moving parts. Now, I am the one who is in charge and juggling all the parts. My future path is to expand my knowledge, continue managing large projects, and share my knowledge and experiences with new apprentices. This rewarding career requires numerous skills and continuing education for your lifetime. 


Third Place

David Wolf 

IEC of Greater Cincinnati 

Craftsman Electric 

A New Electrician, A New Life 

In 2017, the bumpy road of my life at last became smooth as I decided to become an electrician. After years of sales and customer service jobs, I emerged from the desk and entered the construction field. At age 33, I had become overweight and was generally unhealthy in both body and psyche. Work had become just one of the motions of life and this attitude resulted in a quite unstable home life. 

Four years later, I greet every day with the same excitement as day one, which carries over to make me a better husband and father. Typical days once included getting home just in time for dinner and helping everyone get ready for bed. I now have the pleasure of being able to help with homework and coach kids’ teams all while having more time for household projects. 

As I continue on the road to being a great electrician, my career development is quite fluid. The current goal is to continue moving up the ladder in my company to become a senior foreman. Beyond that, the opportunities include continuing in the field or moving to an office-based role. By the end of this year, I will have passed the Master Electrician and Certified Professional Electrician exams. So as a 37-year-old, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to one day venture out on my own. The options make me feel that the sky’s the limit, which just builds on my everyday excitement of being an electrician. 


Fourth Place

Niles Long IV 

Central PA IEC 


Becoming an electrician has shaped my life in many ways. Since graduating high school I have worked in the electrical trade and it has provided me with a living wage to provide for my family, while teaching me the skills of an advanced trade while teaching me many lessons about life outside of work. I gained confidence and learned what hard work truly is from this trade. Getting to wake up and do a job you enjoy is a blessing, but when I get to go day in and day out and learn something new it makes life even better. I have used this trade outside of work to help rebuild a home to give myself, my beautiful girlfriend, and daughter a home. Without this trade I would have no way to even attempt anything in the world of construction. My life has truly been made based off my job, and really, it’s the only job I now know how to do. I would not want to be anything else after enjoying the last couple years at BBEC. 

My future stemming off this career path is what I am truly excited for. I see this career path taking me to higher levels of authority and making me a better electrician, coworker, and teammate in and out of the field. I hope to see this career path one day stem from an apprentice or young journeyman to a leadership position in my company running jobs and continuing to do exceptional work.