On May 10, 2021, ISD staff held a Career Tech to Careers signing event with TJ Wodek, a 2020 graduate of Petoskey High School. Wodek has started a career with Boyne City-based Great Lakes Energy (GLE), as a first-step apprentice. He gained valuable experience before graduation due to his enrollment in Career and Technical Education classes in high school, most notably the Energy Fundamentals: Lineworker Emphasis program housed at Boyne City High School during his senior year.

“I knew that I didn’t want to go on to more school for four more years after I graduated,” Wodek said. “This job is perfect for me. I love to be outside and it is hands-on.”

After high school, Wodek originally planned to attend Alpena Community College for further lineworker training, but the instructor told him his knowledge gained in the high school class put him far ahead of others just beginning to pursue the field. Instead of continuing at ACC, he applied for an open position GLE and was hired in December 2020.

Although he didn’t attend college after high school, Wodek is not done with his education and training. He is part of an apprenticeship program through GLE that involves classroom and on-the-job training for approximately the next four years, when he will become a journeyman lineman. Currently, Wodek spends most of his time installing underground wiring and also working on overhead lines. “Being able to turn the lights on for people in the middle of the night or during a storm is very rewarding,” Wodek said.

One of his teachers, Tyler Armantrout, said Wodek demonstrated a drive to become a lineworker.

“He was also very interested in learning about the program and paid attention to detail,” said Armantrout. Class instructors are also working linemen for GLE, in a partnership with the school district and Char-Em ISD.

Wodek’s supervisor, Gregg Capelin, praised the lineworker program at the high school for its preparation of students entering the workforce. “We at GLE are excited about partnering with the school system and the ISD in helping develop our future skilled trades workers. TJ was the first we have hired full time from this program and he is definitely beneficial to the GLE team,” said Capelin. “The program prepared him well to start him on his path to a successful career in linework. It was first evident when we brought him in for his interview and skills test assessments of how well the high school program prepared him. Anyone who is interested in working outside in the utility business should consider enrolling in this program.”

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