By Sophia Klein
Elk River, Minnesota — Morgan Atkins, 22, is an avid muskie angler and daughter of the Training Director for the Minneapolis Electrical JATC. When hemophobia (fear of blood) prevented her from becoming a nurse, and a distaste for student debt dissuaded her from pursuing an accounting degree, she enthusiastically followed in her father’s career footsteps.
Today, Atkins is entering the third year out of a five-year program as an electrical apprentice with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 292 (Minneapolis).
“I asked my dad, ‘Well, dad, what do you do again?’ Because I know he didn’t have to pay for schooling and actually got to work while he was in high school,’” Atkins said. “So, I just applied to the program. I didn’t pass the aptitude test right away, so I pre-apprenticed for about 10 months. Then I got in and I have loved it ever since. I feel like this is where I want to be in life.”
Atkins appreciates that her values of safety and attention to detail are shared by her union and are consistently reflected in their work.
“We want to make sure that we do quality work because that’s what separates us from non-union workers,” said Atkins. “There’s a lot of pride in our trade to make things look pretty. Any non-electrician might look at a project and just think, “Oh yeah, that’s pipe there.’ But another electrician will appreciate the little tricks that make a quality project what it is.”
As a woman in the trades, Atkins has found a place in the group Sisters in Solidarity within her union, although she notes that the work environment is incredibly supportive.
“Everybody is building towards the same goal, and there are great guys that are going to be sticking up for you if you need it. My coworkers definitely have my back,’ said Atkins.
Atkins is currently working on the split of Highways 494 and 694 in Maple Grove and is setting up temporary lighting signal systems in Brooklyn Park and St. Louis Park.
“You feel very needed,” she said. “We’re building our communities and our cities up bigger and stronger. I don’t see any future where you wouldn’t need an electrician.”
One of Atkins’ favorite projects that she has worked on so far is the new Public Service Building in downtown Minneapolis. Although Atkins is only in the third year of her apprenticeship, she still got to play a big hand in the project.
“It was really cool working on that project because it started from nothing, and then next thing I knew we were working on the ninth, then the 10th story,” said Atkins. “I piped all the circuits up in the ceilings, and I did all the devicing for the sixth floor. Now I feel proud looking up at the finished project knowing that I got to be a part of it.”
Building the Life She Wants
Atkins has even bigger dreams for the projects she will work on in the future. Electricians will play a big part in the development of clean energy systems, and Atkins anticipates using the skills she is learning at work for her life at home as well.
“I really want to work on a solar farm project and see how that works, because another dream of mine is to have my own hobby farm that runs entirely on clean energy,” said Atkins. “The ultimate goal I feel is to build a life that I want: the American dream. With this career, I easily see that happening. I’m going to be able to have a hobby farm, and my own lake property, and when things need to be fixed, I can do it on my own.”
Interested in more information about a rewarding career in construction through apprenticeship?
The Construction Careers Foundation helps connect young people like Morgan Atkins with registered apprenticeships in Minnesota’s building and construction trades. To learn more about apprenticeship opportunities in Minnesota, visit https://constructioncareers.org/apprenticeship/.
To read more Success Stories like Morgan Atkins’ visit: https://constructioncareers.org/success-stories/