by Luiza Mills
The construction industry has changed immensely over the past couple decades, but its reputation has, so far, lagged behind. Outdated impressions of hard labor, back-breaking work, and physical stress still linger and, though there are aspects of the industry that still involve demanding work, many people – including women – don’t realize that a career in construction can look very much like a career in technology or professional services.
In honor of Women in Construction Month, Interstate Electrical Services (IESC), an electrical contactor in North Billerica, Mass., is working to change these preconceived notions, in part, by acknowledging the talented women who contribute to making the company what it is today: the largest electrical services merit shop in New England.
Ashley Pagan, licensed journeyman electrician, spends her work days studying construction drawings, installing electrical components, repairing existing electrical equipment, and ensuring that her work is of the highest quality and fully compliant with all state and local codes. As Ashley knows, a career in the electrical trade is drastically different than it was just a couple decades ago thanks to technological advances and prefabrication. “It’s a creative profession,” she says. “You get to see the results of your work for years to come, and every day is an opportunity to improve your mind and learn new skills.”
A true jack of all trades, Lisa Snell, an administrative assistant at Interstate, handles client service requests, field service schedules, billing and invoicing, project estimates, and much more. Lisa works closely with state and municipal agencies to acquire and approve requisite electrical permits, and she schedules fire alarm inspections at client facilities. Lisa says that Interstate “believed in me enough to hire me for this position and has given me opportunities to grow. I believe in the company, their values, and the way they treat their employees.”
An apprentice currently in year three of her journey to become a licensed electrician, Kelly Gallagher works alongside Interstate’s electricians and receives valuable on-the-job training. But Kelly didn’t always know the trades were her calling. “I was raised to believe that a rich and rewarding career begins with a college diploma,” she says. “And I tried to conform to that vision. But after drifting for years through several colleges and various degree programs, I knew it was time for something different. It can be frustrating to look back and realize I could have started on this career path 15 years earlier, but I needed the struggle. If my journey was easy, I would probably take it for granted. I am so grateful to be here now doing something I truly love and learning from everybody I work with.”
After earning her associate’s degree in business management, Kelley Kilbride, accounting assistant, began her career in the healthcare industry. But when a job opportunity became available at Interstate, Kelley made the leap to the construction industry and she hasn’t looked back. At Interstate, Kelley oversees the complete payroll cycle, including time collection, and ensures proper HSA and 401k reporting through final certified payroll reporting. “Interstate has energized my career,” Kelley says. “The company saw my potential and provided me with outstanding mentoring and opportunities that enabled me to grow and elevate my role and responsibilities. The journey from where I started at Interstate to where I am today is incredible.”
Allisyn Mowrey, fourth year electrical apprentice, always knew she wanted to work with her hands, and not at a desk. “I love the outdoors and don’t mind working in more open construction sites,” says Allisyn. “I’ve been working toward my goal of becoming a licensed electrician for the past three years. I’d say the best advice I can give to anyone considering a career as a licensed electrician is this: Just do it! It is four years of hard but rewarding work, and once you gain the experience and skills to pass the license exam, you have that for the rest of your life.”
Luiza Mills is vice president of human resources at Interstate Electrical Services.