Empowering Communities

Energy Trades Student Becomes the Teacher

July 24, 2018

Raul Nunez, from Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, last year completed a program that prepares teens for careers in energy management and other trades. Now, as a program intern, he plays the role of instructor and mentor to current students. One of his jobs is to create activities that will educate and engage.

The Tools of the Trade program is designed to help address the shortage of workers in the skilled trades and connect young adults from diverse communities with employment opportunities. Students get hands-on experience by observing linemen in the field, networking with ComEd employees, and learning about topics such as safety and how to apply mathematics in the energy industry.

When his internship ends, Nunez hopes to keep working for ComEd by pursuing a career as a transmission substation worker. He is motivated by knowing that it is one of the most challenging jobs in the field.

Nunez grew up in a family that valued hard work. At a young age he was exposed to construction work. “My dad would teach me about construction, tell me what he was doing, showing me the tools he would use, and what they did,” Nunez said. “I want to expand my skills and knowledge. I want to learn how to manage, how things function, and work with transformers. My dad taught me to be ambitious about working.”

When he got older, Nunez started working with his dad in construction doing jobs such as demolishing rooms and putting up walls. “I loved doing it, and helping my dad out. The more I learned, the more I realized I could do anything I wanted.”

Nunez also uses the skills he learned from his dad to help his community. As a freshman at Benito Juarez High School he visited Haiti to help build a school there. By the time he graduated high school in 2017, he had accumulated 350 hours of community service.

ComEd partnered with Chicago non-profit After School Matters to create the Tools of the Trade program to provide students opportunities to kick off their careers early. The program is designed for Chicago high school students ages 16 through 18.