“My entire life, I wanted to be a vet, but going to NTC’s Jobs for the Girls event last year changed everything,” said Jay High School senior Milee Sams with a smile.
The event Sams refers to is an annual recruitment event the Northeast Technology Center’s Kansas Campus hosts to introduce female students to non-traditional career training programs. Female students typically make up less than 25% of the enrollment for trades such as welding, auto repair, construction and electrical technology, but NTC is actively working to educate female students about the lucrative careers available in male-dominated trades.
“Despite planning to be a vet, I’d not had much hands-on activity with veterinary medicine, and when I did it wasn’t enjoyable or fun,” Sams said. “With electricity, I can see what I make. I can see the lights, the circuits, the hardware…I love looking at a building now and seeing beyond what everyone else sees.”
Sams was one of nearly 20 high school students who participated in NTC’s Jobs for the Girls event held in February of 2016. The students learned about NTC’s Electrical Technology program, heard from female professionals working in the electrical and manufacturing industries, and took part in a group wiring activity.
“I loved it,” Sams said of the event. “I enrolled right away, and I knew pretty quickly that this was the field I wanted to work in. I’ve decided now that I want to work as a lineman, because I like to be challenged, I love heights and I want to travel.”
High school students like Sams attend a program for only half a day, so it takes them two years to complete their training at NTC.
“I’m taking industrial courses first, so I think when we cover construction next year it will be a little easier,” Sams said. “Relay and motor controls were fairly easy to pick up, but right now we’re on timers, and I never knew there were so many timers. Sequencing gives me trouble sometimes, but I like that our teacher makes us think about a problem, dropping hints without giving us the answer.”
Sams is one of only two girls in the afternoon session, but she has gained confidence from being in the minority.
“I kind of feel empowered being in a classroom of almost all guys, because they don’t treat us any differently than they treat each other,” Sams said. “If I can speak in front of these people, why can’t I do it front of everyone else? This program has really boosted my confidence.”
Sams is planning to take advantage of NTC’s 13th Year Tuition Waiver available to high school graduates and enroll at NTC again next year to complete her program.
“I’m planning to use my electrical training to get through college, and then go to work as a lineman,” Sams said. “I want to travel too, and a lineman job will allow me to do that. There's a shortage in the industry and with Baby Boomers retiring, there are lots of jobs that start at anywhere from $15 to $20 per hour.”
An admitted adrenaline junkie, Sams’ ultimate goal is to work for Air2 as a highly trained electrician who uses helicopter transports to access and inspect 500,000 volt lines.
“I've always enjoyed physical work – it makes me feel better to be active and to be outside,” Sams said. “The worst part will probably be working in the snow storms. I don't like cold, but I’ll survive.”
During Jobs for the Girls 2017 event, Sams served as a student guide and helper to the students who participated in the wiring activity. As a returning student in 2018, she is planning to serve again in that capacity for next year’s event.
“I don't want to discourage anyone from pursuing what they want, but sometimes life doesn't go as planned,” Sams said. “When it comes to being a girl in a mostly male line of work, you just have to go for it. I really love it here, so if you want to learn something, I think it would be a good idea to come to NTC.”