Stephen Hull is an Electrical Foreman. For his first two years out of high school, Stephen worked in a labourer position in Ottawa.
“I always loved to work with my hands,” he says. “Even more so when it had a practical end. Electrical theory had fascinated me since Grade Seven, and I figured that I would always have a job in my field.”
He was right. Since then, Stephen has had steady employment in construction. But he warns that it’s not for everyone, and anyone participating in the trades must have passion and drive. “This is where experience comes in. It’s not enough to just be in the trades. If you lack passion and drive, then you won’t make it. Your knowledge and experience will ensure your next job.”
Stephen went on to complete his apprenticeship. He urges people to keep searching for apprenticeship jobs, and to not give up. “Some come easy, but others take months.” He worked with mostly small contractors in the beginning. “It’s a good place to get your hands the dirtiest, and you’ll get to try a wider variety of work.”
He’s been working as an Electrical Foreman for three years, but it’s been quite a learning process. “When I first started I knew next to nothing. But as the trade program progresses, you’re expected to take on more responsibility and to teach apprentices coming behind you,” he says. “So I went from barely knowing the basics to running year-long projects of 100,000 square-foot buildings with crews of 15 or more.”
But the added responsibility means he gets to stay in one place longer, which is important to him. He’s more family-oriented these days, and with his first child expected in April, he spends his time working and preparing for the baby’s arrival.
As for job satisfaction, Stephen says it comes in waves. “I crave fresh and different projects to keep me on my toes. That being said, it’s always so satisfying to complete a project. So yes, I am happy doing what I’m doing.”
“One of the coolest jobs I’ve had is working on the oil sands just outside of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Just the sheer scale is impressive. On a regular day there were upwards of 12,000 people living and work onsite. Being from a town of less than 4,000 people, you couldn’t help but be impressed.”
When asked about the best part of his job, he says it’s the constant change of scenery. “I cannot imagine working in the same place day in and day out for 40 years!”