A single mom is finishing apprenticeship to become electrician



Carlisa "Lisa" Mitchell

Electrical apprentice, Enterprise Electric Co.; member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 24

AGE -- 28

YEARS IN BUSINESS -- In final year of five-year apprenticeship.

PAY -- Currently $20.78 an hour but that will increase to $27.70 an hour once she graduates from the Baltimore Electrical Training Center in May.

HOW SHE STARTED -- She started out considering a career in business, "but then I realized I cannot arrive at an office and sit behind a desk for the next 30 years of my life." She heard about electrical work at vocational school and signed up. "I'm glad because it's the greatest thing that's happened to me."

TYPICAL DAY -- She wakes up at about 4:30 a.m. and gets her sons, Devon, 7, and Danez, 5, ready and out the door by 6 a.m. She drops them off at the sitter and drives to the job site. She finishes her work by 3 p.m. On Mondays and Wednesdays, she has classes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

THE GOOD -- "I really get a kick out of being part of building something. I get a lot of satisfaction when I take my kids downtown and I drive past all of these buildings and I tell them, `Mommy worked on those.' "

THE BAD -- The weather. Because the buildings aren't completed, there's often not much shelter.

BUILDINGS WHERE SHE'S DONE ELECTRICAL WORK -- Some parking garages at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the new parking garage at Baltimore-Washington International airport.

EVER SCARED OF ALL OF THOSE WIRES? -- "It's scary and it can be very intimidating at first, but they teach you how it works and what to touch and what not to touch. Then it just gets to a point where you've just got to be aware of what you're doing."

DOES SHE FIX THINGS AT HOME? -- Yes. She lives in Kingsville now but on Sept. 30, she closed on a home in Baltimore. "I'm so excited about all of the projects I can do. I just hope I can afford to do what I want."

WHAT DO YOUR SONS THINK OF HAVING A HANDY MOM? -- "They love it. I try to teach them things with tools so they can help me. Maybe one day, they will become electricians. But I think it would be nice if I could get one to be an automotive mechanic."

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