When I think back to being a rookie electrician, there’s a lot of advice I would give my younger self. Even though some lessons can only be learnt the hard way, there are some pieces of advice I wish I would have been given or that I would have learnt a little bit earlier.
1. Ask lots of questions
First of all, let me start by saying, being a sparky isn’t for the thin-skinned. If you can’t take a joke or can’t handle a little tough love, you’re going to find the profession to be really difficult. It takes time to learn a new trade, and when I first started, I remember more than a few times my bosses yelled at me.
Because of this, you might think my first piece of advice seems a little bit out of place, even still, I would tell my rookie self to ‘Ask lots of questions’.
Now, you might be wondering how you can ask lots of questions when your bosses can sometimes be intimidating, expect a lot from you and at times, doubt your ability. But asking questions was important because of the environment I found myself in.
If I could go back, I would try to cut through all of the noise and ask more questions. It’s through asking questions that you learn how to do your job. But most importantly, it’s through asking questions that you learn why you’re doing what you’re doing.
If you take the time to learn the why from every person who teaches you, you’ll learn the trade a lot faster and with a lot more accuracy than many other people.
2. Find ways to stay organised
If I could go back to being a rookie electrician, I’d tell myself to try to stay organised. When I say organised, I don’t just mean on the job. I would tell myself to:
‘Organise your day by understanding from the night before what you’re going to do the following day.’
‘Organise your tools by having a good understanding of what you own, where things are located and what they’re used for.’
‘Organise your time by understanding what jobs you have worked on, when you worked on them and who you worked with. This way, if your boss goes back and asks you a question down the road, you won’t have to fumble through your thoughts trying to remember what you did. You will be able to refer back to your notes.’
Now, looking back, I know that if I would have learnt these lessons as a rookie, I would have been prepared for any situation I faced in the future, from opening my own business to managing a large project to managing a budget and employees.
3. Invest in your tools
Another important lesson I wish I would have learned earlier was to invest in my tools. I’ve heard people say if you have to borrow it three times, it’s time for you to buy it. Never underestimate the value of having good tools because they can help you do your job faster and better. I’ve now learnt that I can use a cheaper tool to understand what it’s good for and how it works, but over time, I realise there is a difference between a cheap tool and a better quality tool and in the long run, by investing in my tools, I’m investing in my trade.
4. Work on being neat and labelling everything
One of the things I wish I would have known as a rookie electrician is that I should be neat in everything I do. The lesson I’ve learnt from this is to label everything. I try to make sure to label each wire as I’m doing my work and to write clearly so when people, like the site foreman or an inspector, come behind me, they can see the work I’ve done, understand what it’s connected to and trust the quality of my workmanship.
5. Do what you’re told, but also be safe
Because I work in a high-stakes area each day, the biggest priority for me and everyone else on the site is to be safe.
When you first start off, there’s a lot of grunt work. Being an electrician is a physical job, and if there’s anyone who’s going to get all of that work it’s going to be the newbie, who was me. It’s easy to want to talk back and tell your boss what you think. But, I would tell my rookie self not to let my ego get in the way, be quiet, listen, learn and try to absorb as much as you can.
In saying that, I think it’s also important to make sure the things you’re being asked to do are safe. I would make sure to balance being quiet to knowing the right times to speak up, which would be if my safety or someone else’s safety was at risk.
Looking back, I’ve learnt so much as an electrician and I happily pass these lessons along to rookies when they come on-site and are learning the ropes.
If you’re looking for a supportive team and a group of electricians who care about the quality of their work learn more about us at mrglow.com.au.