By: Matt Hendrian and Austin Bauer

When Justin MacGregor earned his associate degree, he was at a crossroads. 

The education he was pursuing wasn’t what he loved to do, and he had questions about his future. Working in construction at the time, he leaned on his coworkers, many of whom were veterans, and they asked if he had considered joining the armed services. 

A year after researching whether this was the right choice for his career, Justin found himself standing on a set of yellow footprints at Marine Corps Basic Training – or boot camp. “A lot is going through your head when you arrive,” he recalled about his experience, “It’s the most chaotic place I have ever been. In the back of your mind, you’re wondering if you did the right thing”. 

Reinforcing Resilience

Through all the challenges an enlistment in the military can bring, Justin discovered that something was happening within him. Not a change, but an affirmation that the traits he had relied on his entire life weren’t just valuable – they were essential. “It’s eye-opening how much you can learn in such a short time. It makes you grow up quick, they give you a lot of responsibility at a young age.” 

Justin was no stranger to a determined mindset, even before he completed boot camp, the difference that separated his time in construction from his time at Consumers Energy was the reinforcement of the values that guided him there in the first place. “Linework has always been in the back of my mind and after a successful career fixing helicopters in the Marine Corps, I knew I could do it” A formative experience he credits for setting the stage for the next chapter of his life, “I don’t know if it changed my career path, but it set in stone what direction I wanted to take it.”

With valuable experience from the military now a part of him and a clear idea of what he wanted his future to be, he was ready to embrace a new challenge. 

Finding His Fit

When reflecting on his time serving in the Marine Corps, Justin drew on some lessons that he brings with him every day, “Quitting or giving up isn’t an option, you have to find a way to get it done. Make it work, whatever you must do. Even with limited resources or time, it reinforced finding a way to overcome that.” 

As Justin begins his new career as an electric line worker, he is confident that his path was right for him, “I am happy I did it; it was a good experience,” he recalled of his decision.  

He can also feel assured that the same qualities that were valued in the armed services are valued by the company and his coworkers. In a year fraught with the challenges of powerful storms, his mentality and approach towards problem-solving are traits that make him an integral part of our team and a coworker we are proud to have.

Veterans Electric Lines Boot Camp

Justin is among the many veterans who now call Consumers Energy home.

We are always committed to serving our rich community of veterans through programs like the one Justin got his start in, The Electric Lines Bootcamp.

This year, we launched the first ever Veterans Electric Lines Boot Camp. We are proud to have partnered with the Michigan State Utility Workers Council (MSUWC), Power for America, and the Electric Joint Apprentice Committee to hire Veterans as Electric Lineman Apprentices. In order to properly train these veterans, the team created a Veterans Electric Lines Bootcamp, which gives the Veterans a solid foundation to begin their apprenticeships.

The boot camp was successful thanks to the ongoing partnership of the Veterans Advisory Panel, an internal employee resource group, the MSUWC, Power for America, Electric Join Apprentice Committee and our training department Learning & Development.

Amber Fogarty, Manager of Strategic Talent Pipeline Programs who manages the program said, “Of all the projects I’ve worked on at Consumers Energy, this has, by far, been the most rewarding, passion-filled program I’ve ever been a part of. As a veteran myself, being able to connect my military service with my civilian work has been an incredible experience.”

Shortly after sending out a notice to recruit for the program, we received over 200 applicants. The applications were reviewed by a diverse panel that found 90 Veterans who met the requirements for the program. These 90 applicants were interviewed over the course of a few weeks which resulted in 40 Veterans being selected for the Veterans Electric Lines Bootcamp.

The Veterans Electric Lines Boot Camp started earlier this year on March 15, followed by a second on March 29. The ten-day training period exposed the candidates to safety, proper climbing technique, and several basic linework related skills. They had to complete the linework orientation at the end to be offered a paid linework apprenticeship.

‘“The Michigan State Utility Workers Council is extremely proud to continue our partnership with Consumers Energy, as well as the Power for America Training Trust to allow for career opportunities in the Utility Industry for our Veterans,” said Craig Wright, President of the MSUWC. “On behalf of the MSUWC, we thank all that were involved in building this training program from the bottom up and we look forward to continued success with our Veterans training programs.”

The program is currently recruiting for 2022. To learn more, visit P4A Electric Lines Boot Camp.

As we celebrate Justin beginning his journey with us through the first chapter of his story, we reflect on the achievement, sacrifice, and bravery of all our veterans here at Consumers Energy and across the country. Thank you, Justin and veterans everywhere for your service.

2021 Best For Vets: Employers

Recently, we were ranked the number one company in Michigan in the 2021 Best For Vets: Employers by The Military Times. This survey is the most comprehensive annual ranking of the country’s best employers and organizations with military-connected employment, programs, benefits and support efforts. We were ranked 20th overall and 3rd out of 7 utilities.

We would love for you to join our team. Find open positions on our website.