Career Quick Look
in Electronics; A.S. in Telecommunications Technology
Roberta Bavaro's Resume
"Make sure you enjoy your work," Roberta says. And don't
be afraid to stand up for yourself in the workplace. "Sometimes
you have to fight for what you want," she says.
"If you do the best you can," she says, "you can achieve
"As far as work barriers, it's like any other job," Roberta
says. "You have to prove that you're a good technician."
Getting Started: Roberta had spent several years doing
clerical work in the medical field, but found herself frustrated
by the lack of growth opportunity. "It was a dead-end job,"
she says, "there was just no room for advancement." She decided
it was time to change gears and learn a new trade, and enrolled
in the Rhode Island School of Electronics, where she earned
her electronics diploma in two years.
After several years in the field, working at Verizon, Roberta
enrolled in the company's Next Step program, which offers further
training and education for employees through the Community College
of Rhode Island. "We go to classes one day a week, from 8 to
5," she says.
Education: Roberta had studied liberal arts at Providence
College in the 1970s, but after several years in the workforce
she wanted to pursue a more technical career. She earned her
diploma in electronics from the Rhode Island School of Electronics
in 1986. Sponsored by her employer, she is currently enrolled
in Community College of Rhode Island's Telecommunications Technology
program, where she'll receive her associate's degree.
"It's a very accelerated course," Roberta says. "Last semester
we learned electricity, this semester it's all electronics.
After the second year we get into more specific subjects, related
to the telephone business, advanced switches and things like
that." With the Next Step program, she'll have even more opportunities
in her work with Verizon.
Greatest Professional Achievement: Roberta says that
passing the oral examination to receive her technician's rating-
where she was tested by a chairman and examiner from Verizon,
and a union representative - has been her proudest achievement
in the workplace. She had been studying for almost 2 years for
the exam, which requires a thorough knowledge of every aspect
of her job, including company policies, basic electricity, electronics,
binary math, all types of circuitry and test equipment. She
failed two sections on her initial try, but persevered and passed
the second time. Achieving this rating means Roberta can earn
more money for doing the same job.
Barriers: Roberta says she had always enjoyed math and
science, which helped her when she returned to school for her
electronics training. "I've encountered no barriers at CCRI,"
she says. "There's that old saying, you have to do the job twice
as well if you're a woman," Roberta says, "but I really think
that if you go in there and do the best you can, people will
recognize and respect that."
Working with Men: Roberta says that electronics is still a mostly
male profession, but adds that these days, "there are more and
more women working in this area."
As in any other field, she says, "you have to prove yourself.
You have to go in there and act as a worker, and be ready to
do anything." Sometimes the job involves something physical,
such as moving a bag full of wires. "I do it right along with
the guys," she says, "because I make the same money they do."
Throughout her career, Roberta says she's found the electronics
union to be a great source of support. "I've got a very strong
union that fights against all kinds of discrimination," she
Advice for Women: "Never let anyone treat you differently,"
Roberta says, "or make you feel 'less' than the guys." She feels
it's important to be pull your own weight, and be prepared to
help with whatever is needed - act like a team player and you'll
be treated like one.
And don't be afraid to stand up for yourself in the workplace.
"Sometimes you have to fight for what you want," she says.
Above all, she says, "make sure that you enjoy your work."
Typical Workday/Environment: Much of Roberta's work evolves
around the installation and maintenance of analog and digital
circuits, which transfer phone signals and increasingly, data,
for all manner of businesses and applications. "It's very technical,"
she says. "We use laptops to get into the circuits. It's phone
related, but it's also working with data, installing and maintaining
what we call T1, T3, and fiber optics. Roberta works out of
Verizon's downtown Providence office, the largest and most diversified
in terms of equipment. With the advances in telecommunications
technology, and the rapid growth of Internet and wireless applications,
she says her work is constantly evolving.
"It's amazing how the field changes," she says. "Day after day
there's something new."
Career Ladder: An entry-level worker in electronics might
start at $12 an hour - and as Roberta's career shows, there
are great opportunities for further learning and advancement.
A trained technician, with five or more years of experience,
can earn up to the $64,000 with full medical and pension benefits.
To keep pace with the changes in tools and technology, many
companies will offer further education on the job, which benefits
workers and employers alike.
She also recommends teaching, as a great way to share your expertise
and experience. "It feels so good and gratifying,"
Professional Associations: Member of Union Local 2323,
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Hobbies: When she's not working, Roberta enjoys gardening
and taking care of her home, as well as reading, listening to
music and watching movies. She's also proud of her involvement
with the Union Local 2323 (International Brotherhood of Electrical
Workers), where she's been an active member for 16 years, and
a steward for more than 10 years. Roberta helps the union investigate
grievances which include some discrimination cases.
*Annual salary number is not the role model's actual salary. Salary for Electronic Technician based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition