IEC Apprentice Essay Contest Winner: My Future is Bright 

Jacob J. Henderson is a young man with a great future and, as he states in his grand prize-winning piece for the 2022 IEC Apprenticeship Essay Contest, “becoming an electrician has been a life-changer for me.”  

“I did not come into the IEC Apprenticeship Program with a lot of mechanical knowledge, so at first it was difficult for me to learn that,” Jacob says. “I have always leaned more to the creative side; I like to write, and I dabble in 3D art. But I have enjoyed the challenge these past four years. From year one to now, I’ve gotten so much better. In fact right now on the job, I’m running the conduit by myself. I feel confident. It’s was  probably the hardest thing for me in the beginning, but it is most rewarding to overcome a challenge.” 

Jacob truly enjoys problem-solving and trouble-shooting – and many in the electrical contracting business would agree the need to use those skills are pretty much regular occurrences. 

“I’m best when there is a problem and we need to get creative to solve that problem,” Jacob notes. “For example, if there is a weird obstacle that we have to get around when we’re bending conduit, I like to figure out the best way to run it. And, most of the time there are obstacles!  

“But it’s nice when there are none,” he continues. “We’re doing a warehouse job now, and we’re the only trade there. It’s just a shell really, and we’re getting power in there. It’s just straight runs of 90, so that’s been nice!”  

When he’s not on the job, Jacob tends to his creative side. His writing these days centers on his life experiences, like becoming an electrician, meditation, philosophy. Electrical contractors should read Jacob’s piece on Medium: Generation Z is Missing Out on an Opportunity: College is Not Always the Answer.  

“When I first started writing, I wanted to write novels,” Jacob says. “With work, that became a little harder, as I’d come home tired. But I still write, and I find myself writing about my experiences. I’m into meditation and philosophy so I like writing about those things. I like reading something and trying to connect what I read with how I interpret the world. I write a lot just for myself. Thanks to this essay contest, it sparked something in me again, and I plan to continue writing about the electrical industry and encouraging young people to get into the trade. I don’t think that desire to write will ever go away.”  

Jacob sees a possible path that will combine his newly acquired electrical skills with his creative side. He’s been researching a possibility for the future – becoming an electrical designer.

“I enjoy creating things in digital space,” Jacob says. “Electrical designers work with CAD and do the drawings, so I’ve often thought that would be a nice next step, the next challenge for me. I think I could use that creative aspect of myself in electrical design. It is crucial for me to continue to gain field knowledge first and gain more insight into how to do these things.”  

Jacob is secure in the choice he made to bypass college and become an electrician. He is grateful for the IEC Apprenticeship Program and his company, Roehrenbeck Electric, in Columbus, Ohio. 

“A big thanks goes to my company, Roehrenbeck,” Jacob states. “They’ve helped me out a lot. The combination of IEC and my company has made me the electrician I am today. Having the IEC and a good company is crucial for an apprentice to succeed.” One of the biggest changes Jacob has seen in himself these past four years is his growth in confidence. He said that he was shy in high school and not comfortable in social settings. 

“Getting into the trade was an eye-opener for me because you have a lot of big personalities, and you’re thrown into challenging situations as you progress in your apprenticeship,” he shares. “You are expected to lead others and you’re expected to communicate, so at first it was very hard for me to come out of my shell and speak up and give input. But, again, it goes back to my desire to rise to the challenge. I told myself I can do this. I’m capable. I just kept showing up and kept trying. I’ve been the second in charge on multiple jobs – getting guys ready and explaining how to do multiple tasks really helped me communicate better and gave me the confidence to lead, be more focused and be a better electrician. My confidence has skyrocketed during my apprenticeship, and it’s translated to me being more open outside of work as well and willing to put myself out there.” 

Congratulations Jacob. You have completed your IEC apprenticeship successfully. The world awaits….and knows you will shine brightly.