The Electrical Worker online
April 2024

My IBEW Story
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Mandy Tullis-Martin, electrical apprentice
Le Sueur, Minn., Local 343

"Before I started my apprenticeship, I was working two jobs: one was in finance, and the other was as a server/bartender. I had been working two jobs for about six years at that point, trying to get by as a single parent of a 3-year-old. I had very little time for my son, and the time I did have wouldn't go far because I was always so mentally and physically drained. I couldn't keep going with the way things were.

My dad, an engineer, mentioned the apprenticeship program to my brother, and although he wasn't interested, I jumped at the opportunity. I was 24 at the time, and I had no idea what an apprenticeship was, or a union. It's not an option that I had been told about in high school.

I applied for the apprenticeship as quickly as I could and went through the comprehension test and interview, which was the most nerve-wracking part of the process. I was the only woman there for an interview, and I didn't know what to expect. There was a woman apprentice (now a journeyperson) at the hall that day, and even though she was there to talk to the office staff, she ran right over, hyping me up and putting my nerves at ease.

My interview was awesome after that, and I had them all laughing. I walked out of the interview with probably a little too much confidence and told the director that I would hear from him in a week. He called me three days later! Now I'm close to the end of my apprenticeship, and I'm so excited to turn out!

When I started out, I wanted to do something I enjoyed while making decent pay and spending more time with my family. Membership in the IBEW has given me the time to be there for my kids (now two daughters and a son) and my husband. We were able to move into a bigger house, have pets and be together more. I have the confidence to make repairs in my own home.

My son wants to build robots when he gets older, and I now have the financial means to get him into programs that will benefit his future. Being an IBEW sister has given me the opportunity to make an impact in my community by participating in community outreach, doing things like demonstrating to a Girl Scouts troop how to bend conduit and wire simple circuits. I do my best to help with volunteer events, and I love helping with new apprentices on sites, as I was helped on my interview day.

My time at the IBEW has made a huge, positive change in my life. I'm so grateful. I've met some amazing men and women on jobs who have really taken me under their wing and have taught me so much. Without them, I wouldn't have the skills that I do, and I'm very grateful for their time, expertise and compassion. Thank you to my union brothers and sisters!"