On Feb. 4, more than 200 career and technical students from all corners of Maryland visited IEC Chesapeake’s Laurel Training Facility to hear Mike Holt, Mike Holt Enterprises, speak about his life experiences and journey in becoming an electrical industry training provider. Although Holt has grown accustomed to speaking in front of large groups across the country, he was visibly nervous about this crowd in particular. He wasn’t reviewing changes to the 2014 NEC or grounding and bonding requirements as he later did for more than a hundred IEC Chesapeake contractor members. This audience was getting a very personal look into his personal life.

The father of seven constructed a lecture including some videos and photos from his professional barefoot waterskiing training to make sure his message registered with the diverse group. You could see the nervous tensions ease as Holt told stories of his troubled teenage years and the consequences of his not so wise decisions. The students listened attentively as he shared trade secrets about his accomplishments and private notes about the sacrifices he made to achieve his success.

Brieana Burrs, a pre-apprentice from Woodland Job Corps, found Holt’s message inspiring and educational. Prior to the lecture, she was struggling to maintain interest in the electrical industry. Yet after the lecture and some one-on-one time with Holt, she found a renewed interest in the industry and hopes to start her own business one day.

“I didn’t expect to learn so much from this experience. Mr. Holt made so many points that I can not only apply to being an apprentice but I can also apply them to my personal life,” said Burrs.

The students rounded out their morning with hands-on demonstrations from several training partners of IEC Chesapeake including Milwaukee Tool and RER Energy Group, Reading, Pa. IEC also shared information with the students about the different apprenticeship programs they offer and the Summer Help Program, which allows them to work as pre-apprentices during summer breaks.

List of participating career and technical centers:

  • Center of Applied Technology-North, Severn, Md.
  • Center of Applied Technology-South, Edgewater, Md.
  • Frederick Career & Technology Center, Frederick, Md.
  • North Point High School, Waldorf, Md.
  • Suitland High School, Forestville, Md.
  • Thomas Edison High School, Silver Spring, Md.
  • Woodland Job Corps, Laurel, Md.