As of early August, Andrew Immordino and Berny Say have started new positions in Facilities Operations as apprentices in the HVAC Shop.
Immordino is starting at the shop after more than six years with dining services where he worked his way up from being a service worker to a cook. He has spent many past summers in the Carpenter’s Shop as a student casual and through the SEIU Summer Transfer Program (STP). When the apprenticeship position opened, Immordino said it was a “no brainer.”
“I enjoy using my hands,” he said. “As somebody who was kind of a nerd growing up, I always worked on computers—I built my own mother boards and all kinds of stuff. HVAC is a great transition because I get to do both.”
For Say, the apprenticeship was an opportunity to get into the trades. He worked in Building Services as a custodian for over two years and, this summer, was in the HVAC Shop through the STP. Say, an immigrant from Guatemala, did a lot of research, networking and preparing before applying for the position.
“I’ve been making connections here and trying to work on my resume,” said Say, who also started a LinkedIn profile. “I did a couple of interviews with Kamara Blackman in HR to help me out with my confidence because it's another language. I think all of that helped me get into the program and finally get into the trades.”
Say and Immordino are both enrolled in formal HVAC training. Immordino is enrolled at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) for night classes in HVAC. Say is enrolled in two programs. He is completing an air conditioning, heating and refrigeration program at Orleans Technical College and an engineering science degree program at MCCC. Princeton covers 85% per year of the cost of such programs through the Staff Educational Assistance Plan.
“My managers and my supervisors in Building Services were keen to let me attend my classes, they were supportive,” Say said. “When I got here into the HVAC summer program, all of them were very supportive. They helped me a lot.”
As apprentices, Immordino and Say will get to learn and practice HVAC skills in real time under the supervision of mechanics in the shop. They both like that the role involves continual learning and problem solving.
“I like critical thinking,” Immordino said. “Doing the steps to figure out, if this is causing this to happen, then why is that not happening? It's very enjoyable for me to put my brain to use in that way. It gets me thriving.”
Both have said that the HVAC shop has been welcoming and helpful as they’ve asked questions and gotten acquainted with their new positions.
“I feel that some of the people that come from a different country might think differently about some departments where they don't necessarily see people of their race,” notes Say. “I just felt, and I'm still feeling so far, very accepted and included. All of the guys at the HVAC shop, the manager, the supervisors, Tom Corcoran, all of them, have been very supportive and they're willing to teach you. I feel like inclusivity is a real thing at Princeton.”
The apprenticeship is just the beginning for both Immordino and Say, both hope to keep learning and growing in their new positions. Immordino hopes to be done with school and a full member of the HVAC shop in five years; Say echoes that sentiment while also dreaming of completing his 4-year degree to become an engineer.