Michelle Taylor, 51, crew chief, 29 years
Cotton Electric Cooperative, Walters, Oklahoma
Favorite part of the job: It sounds corny, but after working a storm, and you get people's power on, whether they've been out 30 minutes or four days, to see the smile on the members' faces and they thank you, and they try to give you stuff … it's great. It's awesome.
In [line] construction, all you see is open pasture. When you leave that job at the end of the day—and I do it every time—I turn around and look and think, 'We built that.' That's what's fulfilling about this job.
Most challenging part of the job: Line work is hard on you. There's a lot of physical demand to it. And construction is really hard on the body. You're shoveling and manhandling stuff, and you climb. Construction is by far the hardest part, but I love it.
Advice: Do it! If it's something your heart says you want to do, do it. It's great. It's fulfilling to me.
Kaitlyn Vaillancourt, 21, apprentice, second year
Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Johnson City, Texas
Favorite part of the job: A good day on the job is being able to actually do the work on the pole. That's what I generally enjoy, to be able to get up there and just be able to frame out a pole or sag wire up, stuff like that, I can actually do well and work efficiently and quickly, so I have a lot of pride in that.
Most challenging part of the job: Mostly upper body strength, so I have to work on that a lot. But other than that, day-to-day, I don't see myself really struggling. If I complete a task, I can complete it without a problem.
Advice: I would tell another young female that she needs to have thicker skin than most females because they're going to be hard on you no matter what, just because it is a dangerous job, and they want you to do everything right. If you make mistakes, it could be very dangerous. I'd also tell them that they need to stay fit and stay up on that, be healthy, just so they can perform at a high level.
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