Fall Apprentices of the Month

August | Joseph Dunnam | 5th Year                   

“I’m the first generation in the electrical trades in my family, though I have some family members who were in the local operators union.

“Before I started the 332 apprenticeship, I worked in retail for about 15 years. I wanted to get into the trades and leaned toward electrical. I went through Working Partnerships USA’s Trades Orientation Program. As I was going through that program, it sparked my interest in a couple of other trades, but electrical was always #1 choice. I worked as a material handler for a little while, then as a sheet metal worker at Local 104, before I got into the apprenticeship here. 

“I like that every day is different and that I get to work with my hands; that I’m building something. I enjoyed working on the Nvidia project in Redwood City. It was fun doing the lighting there – both the actual process for the lighting controls but also all the special lighting they had in that building.

“I like the camaraderie of Local 332. I like the fact that we’re able to take care of each other, and that allows us to take care of our families.”

September | Serafin Lopez | 5th Year                        

“Before I started the inside apprenticeship, I graduated from the residential program as the top apprentice. 

“But even before that, I was a manager for a storage facility. Becoming an electrician was something I’ve always wanted to do. We were in a recession when I graduated from high school in 2008, and the local wasn’t hiring. I did my own thing and forgot about it. Then I decided to apply and got in.

“My favorite things about the job are the education and the pride in your work. You’ve got foremen out there going out of their way to teach you on the job, as well as the instructors themselves. They help you out when you ask questions. You’ve always got someone there to help. You’re never left alone.

“What I like best about 332 is the family and the respect. Everyone looks out for each other. Not having to ask for a raise is another thing. You go to work, put your time in, and it’s a give-give relationship. They’re not just asking you for stuff; you’re rewarded for it too. It’s a great work environment; I enjoy it.

“I eventually want to run work and become a foreman. That’s my goal. Maybe even a superintendent; we’ll see where it goes.”

October | Johnah Mondragon | 4th Year                                                      

“Before coming to Local 332, I was a carpenter apprentice at Local 405 right across from our hall. My whole family, my husband, my brother, my sister, and my mom are all carpenters, so I wanted to do my own thing. What I like most about Local 332 is the camaraderie. People just want everyone around
them to be successful. Everybody is supportive.

“The best thing about the work for me is just being able to do something new every day. You’re never not learning. I’ve had a really good experience. Working with women is new to some. I was the first woman this one guy had worked with in 20 years. But after working together, he said I was a hard worker. 

“I’m grateful for the opportunity I got with the apprenticeship. Looking back to when I had my first son, I was only 20. It was difficult. I’m grateful to be able to support my family. I have an eight-year-old son, a four-year-old son about to turn five, and a daughter who’s almost a year and a half. I was worried when I got pregnant that I’d be required to take leave. But they were super accommodating to me at work and school. 

“I’d like to tell women: We’re resilient. I’m a mom of three, and I commute 100 miles each way. We can do anything we put our minds to.” 

November | David White | 5th Year                                      

“I was always fascinated by how things operated, and how things all come together. My dad was a sprinkler fitter and said it was taxing on the body. He said electricians do well, and it’s a lot easier physically. When I was living with my parents, we had a neighbor who was a general foreman with Local 332, which got me interested in 332.

“I got my associate’s degree from Chabot College; that’s when I applied for the Local 332 apprenticeship. I got in on my first time, passed my test, scored well on my interview, and joined the apprenticeship in April 2019. 

“The great thing with electrical is it’s always something different. It keeps me mentally stimulated. Learning how to install systems, how they all come together and work. Underground, the end of the job, trim, putting on covers, running conduit – it’s all interesting to me. Single line interests me the most. 

“Family is really important in my life. My parents, my siblings, my grandmothers, my uncles – they’re near and dear to me. My girlfriend is a huge part of my life too. I have a little brother who’s an athlete. I asked him one day, ‘If there was something else you might want to do, what would it be?’ He said he’d want to be an electrician like me. I’m his hero. I’m trying to make him proud.”

December | Marissa Smith | 5th Year          

“Before the apprenticeship, I was doing agricultural stuff. My family raises show goats; we’re a small family-run operation. I lived in Illinois for a couple of years doing an internship with one of the top goat breeders. It was totally different! 

“But my dad is an electrician, and he kept trying to talk my brothers and me into the trades. I did a couple of summer helps with him and saw that I could do it too. 

“I didn’t realize how much I actually enjoy building things and coming up with solutions. Being an apprentice and working in the field, you’re constantly learning. Everything’s constantly changing, so you’re never going to stop learning. 

“The coolest thing about being in this local is that you can be on one job site for a few months, then not see someone for a couple of years. Then all of a sudden, you see them again and remember them from another job. It’s just so cool to see people reminisce on old jobs.

“As a woman in the trades, I was warned in the beginning: People might be hard on you, they might be mean to you. I’ve had nothing but good people. I’ve had quality journeymen who’ve been nothing but willing to teach me. They treat me equally.” 

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