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FCC Grad Joseph Ewing, Ameren  Apprentice Lineman

Joseph Ewing
Joseph Ewing, Ameren Apprentice Lineman
FCC Electrical Distribution Systems Certificate Program

Looking back over 2009, Joseph Ewing feels so blessed. Joseph completed the Electrical Distribution Systems certificate program in May 2009 at Frontier Community College, and five months later he was hired full-time with Ameren Electric as an apprentice lineman.

Joseph knew the market would be tough due to the economy. In fact, he had sent over 150 resumes not only to companies in Illinois but also in Kansas, Wyoming, New Mexico, Idaho, and more. In July he began sending to Union Halls in Moline, Indianapolis, and Louisville. 

In an effort to keep on top of job openings, Joseph purchased a laptop computer and signed up for mobile broadband so that he could watch for job posting no matter where he was. He knew Ameren Electric only kept job openings posted for 24 hours, or until 1,000 applications had been received. This only allowed about a 1-day window. 

In September, Ameren posted eight job openings across the state of Illinois. Joseph immediately sent his application online and was soon notified that he was one of 10 chosen to sit for the CAST test, the first step in the interview process. 

The CAST test was broken down into the following sections: mechanical aptitude, reading comprehension, math concepts, math conversion with long hand, and mechanical concepts. Each test had a time limit. “The test questions were very familiar to the topics we covered in class at Frontier,” stated Joseph. “Our instructor Steve Rafferty was very good at preparing the students for the test, and I actually scored a 100 on each section.” 

Joseph, along with four others, moved on to the individual interviews with questions such as: why he wanted to be a lineman, would he be willing to work the many over-time hours, and would he be able to work outdoors in both high heat conditions and inclement weather. At this point, only Joseph and one other candidate were selected to move on and join another group of seven for the physical test.

For a period of three days, these nine candidates spent six hours each day climbing poles and two hours each day reading a manual and taking a test at the end of each chapter. Ameren officials evaluated their pole skills, watching their work ethic, and testing their ability to read the instructions and comprehend.

“The lineman training I received at Frontier made me more confident in the application process,” stated Joseph. “I was comfortable with climbing the poles, understood what the evaluators were looking for, and the process was very familiar with everything I learned last year in the lineman program.”

In the end, Joseph was one of three selected for an apprentice job with Ameren, out of more than 1,000 applications. He will be working out of Danville, Illinois, which is located about 3 hours north of Fairfield. Joseph has been hired as an apprentice lineman and after three years of experience, will be qualified as a journeyman lineman. 

Joseph is the son of Leslie and Dena Ewing and a 1995 Fairfield Community High School graduate. He earned an associate degree in Machine Shop from Wabash Valley College in 1997 and soon began working in an industrial Tool & Dye department. After working for 13 years and realizing there was little room for advancement and weak job security, he decided to switch careers and enrolled in the Electrical Distribution Systems program at Frontier in August 2008.

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