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Thread: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

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    Question Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    Hello, I'm Amber I am from Northeastern, PA and I am currently toying with filling out a resume for USIC in PA around the Hazelton Area. I know someone who works for the company and she loves it and has been there a long time. I an currently working for the PSPCA. I am married to my husband of soon to be 4 years in April, and have a beautiful little boy by the name of Kolden who just turned 3 in December.

    I came to this board because my USIC friend told me to come here and see what it was all about. So basically I wanted to know what all being a Utility Locator is all about, and to know if anyone works for USIC in PA and if so where and what do they think about their job? I noticed people from all over and bashing this company but some say it depends on where your located, and the areas your covering. So i was curious to see if there was anyone else covering areas in PA that are on here and what THEY think of their job. I have never done a job such as this before and are not really sure what all it entails.

    I can tell you that I dont have a high tollerance for BS, where I work now, I do it all. I work for the Pennsylvania SPCA in the Barn with the horses, in the shelter with the cats and dogs, I also do adoption events, do grounds keeping, etc. I scoop crap, weed wack for hours on end, mow, load and unload shavings, feed, and hay; get about ran over by horses, deal with the vets, ferriers, dragged around by dogs, and any other eventful thing. I'm a tough cookie so to speak, I go out of my way to help people but I dont appreciate being taken advantage of, or being spit on so to speak, oh and did i mention I only get paid $8.50/hour? Not to mention some of the crap from people I have to deal with... hints why i'm trying to find a better job to help my family.

    So now that ive told you a little about myself, what i currently do, and what i'm looking for out of this forum. Its nice to meet y'all!

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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    Did you ever open the door with that question!


    Well in general USIC has among most locators the reputation of being the worst employer in the industry. Some offices seem better run and I suspect these are actually recently bought out firms that USIC corporate have not put their full influence into. If you indeed have a low tolerance for BS you will be uncomfortable.

    Still you will get better than $8.50 an hour plus a company vehicle to drive home which is worth some bucks in itself. Even if you find this employer to be an agent of the Anti-Christ working there will get you the experience that will allow you to apply elsewhere later.

    The good thing about this job, if the bosses don't intervene too much, is you set up and run your own work. You work outside without direct supervision. It is a highly responsible job and if you make an error marking gas or electric your error can maim and kill people. In addition to the danger factor a miss-marked underground facility can cost repairs, from a few hundred dollars to a million dollars. Like I said, the job comes with responsibility.

    The demands on your personal life are large. We cannot just schedule our work as their are time constraints. We cannot turn down jobs, we must do all that are sent to the company. Any day you come to work you cannot count on leaving for home at the scheduled end of day, we work until the work is completed.
    I am a supervisor and I still have one person out, it is 7PM as I write, getting work done. I have done locating for many years and
    I cannot count the times I have been out until 10PM getting the work completed. Beyond the scheduled 40 hours is the overtime I mentioned and in some areas a 60 hour work week is routine, "I have sometimes worked more than 80 hours in a week. Do not count on getting weekends off as working at least one weekend day is common.
    I once worked seven weeks without a day off.

    In addition to the routine work I wrote about above we are a 24/7/365 day job responding to emergency digs requiring our being 'on-call'. On-call is performed in addition to or regular scheduled work. When on-call, which must include all holidays, we must answer or phone when it rings and then go to the job. So getting up at 1AM and going to work is common and if that is the only call an easy night. I had one tech start oncall Friday at 4:30PM and by 7:00 AM Monday morning had put in over 30 hours. When he got off work Monday he went home and slept until time to go to work Tuesday.

    Did I mention the job has stress?

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    Senior Member locatethis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    Welcome to the Vine. As I can't speak for working in Pa. I did work for that company ( USIC ) in my neck of the woods. All I can say is Thank God I found a much better company and a whole lot less stress. All of my counter parts that are still with USIC are looking for better situations, but jobs are scarce! I must admit that my work is locating only for a few fiber optic companies, and usually only on main streets, meaning no back yards and such. No fences, no dogs , and no homeowners!!!
    But if you like being on your own and working outdoors in all kinds of weather, and being under a great deal of pressure to produce, and if your lucky have good people around you and a decent supervisor, You may find it rewarding!!! Good Luck

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    Senior Member Wingfoot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)


    Hi Kah4309 - Welcome to The Cable Vine! I am a USICer who happens to like the job of locating. I too was a referral by a friend while not knowing anything about the business of protecting public utilities.

    My buddy, who referred me so-to-speak, started locating for USIC in 1994 when it was SM&P (a mom and pop organization started by Steve, Mike & Pat Baker). My wife and I was celebrating my birthday with my buddy (a hard-core, blue-collar guy) and his wife. His wife and I was born on the very same day. During the dinner conversation, I asked my buddy what exactly did he do? He said, "I paint dirt." His wife's response, "He works 60 to 70 hours per week."

    I didn't understand the "Call Before You Dig" concept because I was a "hard-core, white-collar guy" complete with nice finger nails and soft, clean hands. I asked my buddy what kind of money-per-hour are we talking about. His wife coughed up the number instantly before he could answer. I looked dazed as the wheels started spinning in my head. Hell, I was working at least that many hours a week as an outside salesperson not making any where close to that kind of money. As I was putting a pencil to the figures on a greasy napkin, my buddy said, "Ahh, hold up now! You won't like it!"

    I said, "For that kind of money, I'd shovel shit at a dog kennel!" (I'm trying to make a funny!) Three times during the meal and twice in the parking lot my buddy said, "Don't apply for the job. I'm telling ya, you won't like it!"

    Well, I accepted the challenge and sixteen years later we both are working for USIC, "paintin' dirt." I can truthfully say that for every point that our fellow 'Viner ProfessionalLocator listed above is the very reason why I like to be a locator. I don't let company politics drag me down.

    One thing though, noobs at USIC are not asked to be responsible for high-profile (costly) utility locates until they are ready to tackle them. This video is a good view into what locators actually do:


    If you apply at USIC and are accepted to become one of us, please let us know your progress. Meanwhile, The Cable Vine members welcome Lady members and encourage their active participation!

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    Quote Originally Posted by Wingfoot View Post


    One thing though, noobs at USIC are not asked to be responsible for high-profile (costly) utility locates until they are ready to tackle them. This video is a good view into what locators actually do:


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This is not true. It happened all the time in central PA.

    Leaving was the best thing I ever did. Look at my old posts and read.

    Good luck finding a better job.

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    KAH, Probably the best advise will come from your friend. If she's currently there and dealing with the same office. She will have great insight to what you will be facing.

    As for locating itself. There are some pluses and minuses that you have to weigh.

    Locating tends to trap some of its workers. They pay you just enough to keep you there, but not enough to keep you happy there.

    Depending on what your friend says about the office she works out of, I say go for it. See if this is a field you would like to continue in. Then rub elbows with the local "in-house" guys and see what it takes to get into a position with a city or county agency doing the same thing. Use it as a stepping stone.

    If you do go for it, always remember that no matter the job, everyone is flying by the seat of their pants. If you run into things into the field, use this board to make sense of some of it.

    Mke

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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    yall say yall up there in PA ???? LOL!!!! Good Luck with your new job if you take and don't burn any bridges there where you are now !
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    Welcome Amber!

    I don't have much to add, except this. You sound like a reasonable and grounded person. This is a challenging job, and it's not everyone's cup. But it's worth a try. If you are successful, you can use the skills you develop, to further yourself. And it is a great job for networking, which is something many of us forget all too easily.

    Best of luck, keep us posted!!!

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    Senior Member dragon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    I have applied with USIC and a funny thing , i havent heard a word from them . Got exp and semi old...lol weird huh....lol

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    Administrator TheCableVine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    Hi, and welcome to TheCableVine.

    I don't work for USIC and suspect I never will. I don't have anything to say about it so I won't.

    I do locate though and I can tell you it is a unique line of work. Some people enjoy it immensely and others can't wait to get out of it. I guess you won't know until you do it.

    Good luck and let us know what happened either way.

    Make sure you READ this post: Are you applying for a locator job???
    "Change does not always equal progress."

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    Senior Member Wingfoot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    Quote Originally Posted by dead like me View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Wingfoot View Post
    One thing though, noobs at USIC are not asked to be responsible for high-profile (costly) utility locates until they are ready to tackle them.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This is not true. It happened all the time in central PA.
    Hey Kah4309 - dead like me may have a point that I can't argue. I have no clue how the supervisors in Pennsylvania distribute the incoming ticket loads. Any good supervisor will not knowingly assign a job for locates to a noob where something big can get cut. The noob needs to recognize the potential of something big getting damaged on a locate request and notify that supervisor. It is policy at USIC that if a noob notifies anyone with more experience than themselves for help or instruction (supervisor or fellow locator), the noob will NOT be held accountable if something gets cut on that job.* If the noob needs help, the supervisor will assign a person in the team to assist the new person. Any noob will be assigned a team member as a mentor by the supervisor if the sup is bugged enough for help. It is the noob's own fault if the noob never asks for help or clarity.

    The sad fact is with any locating company, most supervisors became sups because they couldn't cut as a locator. Instead of getting booted out, they got promoted up. It is a cut in pay to move up the ladder from a locator to management or support staff so good locators stay in the field to follow the money. The money in management does not come until the 2nd tier and above.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    * There must be documentation on the ticket of date, time, who was called/notified and the conversation. If it pertains to a high-profile utility that might get whacked, a follow-up email to the supervisor, with a cc to the 2nd line, leaves a paper trail and assures immediate action...... just sayin'.

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    Senior Member sauroke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    As a recent release from USIC, I could give you a lot of negatives about the company, but I will refrain from doing so as you could gain some good experience from the. Company.
    First, do you like working fast paced? In my experience, I had to literally run locates out in a 3 to 4 utility area.
    Second, do you enjoy problem solving? There are times where you will know what 1+2 is supposed to equal, but 3 is impossible to find that way, so you have to go to 4. Note, this saved me some headaches before, clamp a tv drop if you can't find it direct connecting.
    Third, do you like working in all aspects of weather? There are many days where I worked through veritable monsoons to get work done.
    Fourth, I would say take a day off from the SPCA, and drive around following your friend to get an idea of some of the things out there.
    You won't be able to drive with her, company policy restricts this, but you may be able to follow her, or see if the company will allow you to ride with her for a day.
    Fifth, ask plenty of questions, you will probably be so lost in the beginning, you will question your sanity, but it does get easier to figure things out.
    Any other questions, don't hesitate to ask. If you want some horror stories, there are plenty of experienced locators on here who will be more than happy to do this! : )

  13. #13
    Mke
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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    Quote Originally Posted by kittycriston View Post
    Hi Friends,

    I'm new here!!! I visit this site very often. I LIKE it!!!
    Finally I decided to join the forum.
    Feels good that i'm not the only one with this kind of fetish
    on this world.
    I'm curious.... go on

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    Senior Member sauroke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mke View Post
    I'm curious.... go on
    Bwahahahaha!!

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    Senior Member locatethis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello, i'm the new girl! (USIC ?'s)

    It seems like the board is being probed by spammers or hackers

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