Veteran Finds Impactful Work After Service
If you had told a young Sarah Wise that she’d be repairing aircraft maintenance equipment someday or designing substations, she wouldn’t have believed it. She had plans to go to art school.
But hoping to get some experience and educational assistance, Sarah opted for military service. And when she took her aptitude test for the U.S. Air Force, she tested high in mechanical concepts. All she could figure is that growing up watching her father work on computers or do construction work, some of it stuck.
“I had no idea I was so inclined, but I loved my job and I became really good at it,” she said. “It’s something I wouldn’t have known about myself and I can guarantee I would not be sitting here as an engineer if it wasn’t for the Air Force.”
Wise served for six years, assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. She tapped into the transition assistance program and began to meet with companies that might have available opportunities. None of them had internships for electrical engineers. “TEP was the only company that said, ‘We haven’t yet, but we’re going to make this work. That made all the difference. I really needed something that would bridge that gap while I finished my degree and that would still allow me to support myself.’”
Wise had never been to a substation before. “My knowledge was really built around a circuit breaker the size of your hand. Now, I’m working with ones the size of a room. The biggest change was seeing it all on such a large scale, but it was surprising how much knowledge transferred.”
She also found she liked dressing up for work after so many years of uniforms.
And because she works in a secure campus environment, in some ways it felt like a small base, including a focus on wellness, with a cafeteria and a gym. There’s also a real sense of mission, she noted, and camaraderie with her team.
“It’s important to me to be part of something that has a larger impact. In the military, I was part of keeping our country safe. At TEP, I get to make sure City of Tucson always has electricity. I’m still part of something just as big and impactful.”