“I wanted to tell my kids I created that light.”

August 16, 2022 – Lakewood, CO — When Encore Electric’s Joe Stevens was a student at IEC Western Colorado, he was asked to do an assignment that has followed him to this day. The assignment seemed simple. He was to answer the question: why did you enter the electrical trade?

Joe’s answer stuck with him and acted as a guide through the ups and downs of school, work, and life. His why statement motivated him to stay committed to himself and his career. He wrote:

“I’ve had a bunch of friends who were electricians. They influenced me a little bit. Getting close to graduation, I knew I didn’t want to go to college. I had a tough choice to make. Then I took a trip to Chicago, and my choice was sealed. I visited Sears Tower. For those who don’t know, Sears Tower is more than 100 stories high, smack in the middle of downtown. The view is spectacular, and the lights lit up the whole night. Right then I knew I wanted to create that some night; when I looked up at the skyline I could tell my kids I created that light.”

After graduating from high school in Ohio, Joe wasn’t sure what career path options were available to him. He longed for a meaningful career where he could create something permanent that would impact others for years to come. What he realized through his assignment was that his trip to Chicago showed him that he had the opportunity to create projects that would affect others in the same way that the tower affected him.


Reflecting on this assignment now, Joe acknowledges how much writing down his why statement stuck with him throughout his apprenticeship.

“Those years you’re in school aren’t easy,” said Joe. “You have long days at work, you’re still taking classes and might have homework, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Having a “why” got me through those challenging times and reminded me why I was doing what I was doing.”

“A target should be defined to determine where you want to be and go in life,” said Josh Pizzino, Encore Electric superintendent. “Once that target is defined you must lay out your path to reaching that target. The path from your starting point to your target is a lot like a schedule, there are milestones that need to be met to hit that target. The IEC and the apprenticeship format are some of those milestones.”

“Asking apprentices to acknowledge why they want to be here and be challenged is so important,” said David Scott, director of human resources. “Finding your drive early in your career can keep you motivated and prepared for growth and success.”

Joe has now graduated from IEC and earned his journeyman’s license. He is proud to point out his many projects throughout the mountains to his three-year-old daughter, just as he had planned.


Having met his original goal, Stevens has found a new “why” to remain motivated in his career.

“My goal now is to continue learning and mastering new skills to grow in my trade,” Stevens said. “I used to be timid and not comfortable trying new, harder things. By advancing my own skills I’m able to pass down knowledge and support the team around me in bettering themselves too.”

Stevens is building his legacy in the industry, developing his own skills along with those of his team. Today, he has the confidence and skill set to take on any challenge he faces on the job.

Taking the time to identify your “why” as IEC asked of Joe can set you forward on a path to success. Identifying your goals demonstrates your commitment to yourself, and can serve as a guide through challenges you meet.

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