Alexis, 23, a Phoenix, Arizona native, graduated from the Electro-Mechanical Technologies (EMT) program at RSI in October 2020.
Thanks for your time, Alexis. What you did you do before you came to RSI?
After graduating high school, I went straight to ASU. I wanted to get a degree and become a Physical Therapist, but that didn’t work out like I’d planned. I quit ASU during my second year of school.
Why didn’t that work out for you?
Honestly, once I got into the classes, I discovered I’d be uncomfortable working so closely with people physically. It just wasn’t for me.
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So you went to work. What were you doing?
I’d started working at FedEx doing warehouse work my freshman year, so I just continued on with that. But after a while I got tired of just being a warehouse guy. I didn’t know what else to do because I had no other education, no leads to work on.
What brought you to RSI?
I saw all these RSI commercials! A lot of my friends have trade jobs. They’re doing great and making lots of money. I wanted to learn something to be useful in the future, you know what I mean? So I went in to meet with Admissions, and took a tour.
Why did you choose the EMT program?
Originally I wanted to just do the seven-month Electrical Applications program, but when they talked me through the nine-month EMT program, which covers air conditioning and electrical, it just made more sense for me. Just a couple of extra months and I would learn another new skill, rather than just electrical. Seven months or nine months really made little difference because I was working towards something.
Did you have any prior electrical experience? Did any relations you’d helped out?
No, I didn’t have any experience at all. I am the first in my family to go into this field.
What did you enjoy most about RSI?
I think it was the hands-on time, especially in the electrical classes because that was where my interest was. It just felt really good playing around with that stuff, learning something new, experiencing something I didn’t know I could do. It’s crazy how much you learn in just that first class in one month. You get right into it wiring small motors and transformers. Simple stuff like that.
Where are you working?
I’m working with Mark-Taylor as a Service Technician at one of their properties. I work Sunday through Thursday, 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Are you enjoying it?
I am. After school, I didn’t know if I was going to do straight up electrical work or straight up AC work, but maintenance is all that and more! They are teaching me how to fix small plumbing issues, how to patch drywall—things I didn’t know. I fix all the stuff people do to their apartments.
How did you get the job?
The school really helped a lot. While I was looking for jobs, the Career Services team were sending my résumé out to companies and places I’d never researched or didn’t know! They really helped me get my name out there. Mark-Taylor was one of those companies that the school reached out to on my behalf.
Talk to us about money. You’ve just started this career, but are you making more than at FedEx?
Yeah, way better! At FedEx I was just making enough to have fun when I was young. It’s a lot more than I made at FedEx, but more importantly it’s a foot in the door. I feel like I can start planning for the future.
What’s your career plan from here?
I was just thinking about this yesterday. I’m thinking that after a few years working in maintenance, I will then try my hand at HVAC. Then after doing HVAC for so many years, once I’ve learned most of the tricks of the trade. I want to do straight-up electrical work. After that, I have no idea because I will have a lot of experience in maintenance, HVAC and electrical. The great thing is, if I need a refresher on those things, RSI said I could always go back to school and take the courses that I already took for free.
Sounds like a solid plan. What do you enjoy most about working in this trade?
I love learning. What I love most about my current job is that I’m always learning cool new stuff: how to fix drywall, how to do small plumbing jobs. Every little thing they show me, I think it’s so cool. I now know how to fix things if something is wrong. When I tell people I work in maintenance, they know that I know how to fix things, and that makes me smile!
Those skills are also useful at home too!
That’s right. I’m going to save money around my own house. It’s crazy how much I know in what, only a year or so maybe? It’s so cool.
Did you make some lasting connections at RSI? People you’ll stay in touch with.
I keep in touch with the classmates I liked! We exchanged numbers, and I try to stay in touch. If you run into problems in the field, it’s good to have people you can call up and ask. I guess you could call them ‘helpful tools’ as well.
What advice do you have for new students just starting out at RSI?
My advice is pay attention, and don’t think you’ll get things right away. It took me a while. Have patience, and if you’re struggling, ask the instructors, or ask the person next to you. I asked so many questions of the people next to me who got something right away. They were always willing to help. You guys are all going through this together and learning together, so people will help you if you ask them.
If you’re an RSI graduate and would like to share your success story and be an inspiration to others, please email [email protected] to be considered for a Graduate Connection interview. Please include details such as your graduation date (month/year), and program.