#MCCGrads2019: ‘Intense doesn’t touch the surface.’ How she became a lineman apprentice

Paige Spietz’s first degree was in environmental science. Working as a forester, she got interested in becoming a utility lineman.

The day Paige Spietz, 27, received her Metropolitan Community College diploma was the same day she started her new career. The MCC-Business & Technology student secured a place in KCP&L’s lineman apprenticeship program.

Spietz had been working for Environmental Consultants in Kansas City as a forester. KCP&L hired the company to keep vegetation away from the utility’s power lines. During this time, Spietz was exposed to line work and heard about MCC’s lineman program.

“With it being so close to home at the time, I thought it was meant to be,” she says.

She was one of two women who graduated from the lineman program this year. Spietz says going through a program historically dominated by men was a great experience. She enjoyed working with a lot of different personalities. Plus, she says, there’s always something you can learn from others.

Back story: Spietz is from Brimfield, Illinois, near Peoria, and graduated from Brimfield High School in 2010. She played basketball at the University of Missouri and the University of San Francisco. She graduated with an environmental science degree from USF in 2015.

Spietz applying the lessons learned during MCC’s lineman program (Photo courtesy Susan Blaser)

Favorite MCC moment: “I think my favorite experience at MCC was learning to climb last summer. I think back to being at the top of a pole for the first time and how far I’ve come in a year.”

Favorite class: “I liked being in my line classes the best, and each instructor in the program had something different to offer.”

Best thing about attending MCC: She says the lineman program provides experience that puts you in a position to get an apprenticeship. “Lineman apprenticeship jobs are pretty competitive, and I wanted to successfully complete the program, earn an associate in applied science degree, and be a more qualified candidate for an apprenticeship position.”

Challenging moment: Finishing her final semester and applying for jobs. “I felt like I had so much to accomplish in so little time. Between working on getting my CDL (commercial driver’s license), homework, studying, boot camps and interviews, life was crazy for a while!”

On completing KCP&L’s lineman boot camp: “Intense doesn’t even touch the surface. It’s a week of climbing, tests and exercises to help them determine their top 16.” Applying wasn’t an easy process, either. In addition to earning her CDL, she had to pass an aptitude test and a phone interview to be accepted into the program.

What others say: “Paige just breezed her way through the KCP&L boot camp,” says Tatia Shelton, Career Services coordinator at MCC-Business & Technology. “Thirty-two possible apprentices started on Day 1. They were whittled down to 16 by Day 3. Boot camp is not for the faint of heart.”

Next steps in the journey:  Now that she’s apprenticing for KCP&L and Westar — the two companies merged and will soon be known as Evergy — she hopes to eventually earn her journeyman card.

Advice for other students: “Always work hard.”