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A Day in the Life - Myles Balfe (Apprentice Telecoms Rigger)

Posted: 18th July 2022

My name is Myles Balfe and I am doing an apprenticeship with the Vodafone Maintenance team here at Obelisk. I have been working with Obelisk for a year and a half, and while I’m normally based in Kildare, I’m lucky that my job brings me all over the country.

Before starting with Obelisk I had no previous experience in telecoms. I worked in event management for a corporate team-building company for 11 years, so it was a big change for me. I was also a zip-line and high ropes climbing instructor in my previous job, so naturally, I stepped into a rigging role with Obelisk.

My day starts around 7am and a Barry’s tea is essential to get the day going. I’ll liaise with my PICW for the plan of action each day. As most jobs require a part pickup and I live closest to DHL, let’s just say I know the lads very well in there! You’ll mostly find me knocking around Dublin as there is such a high concentration of sites there. I’ve been as far afield as Donegal for jobs but I don’t mind a long drive - just ask me or my colleague, Hugh Connolly about the time we drove from Ireland to Mongolia and back, Donegal doesn’t seem that far away after that!

The most common faults I would fix day to day would be RRU and ODU replacements or dish and antenna swaps. This means you'll find me swinging off a tower or flying high on a rooftop somewhere (safely, of course!) I've always loved climbing and I always say, the higher the better. This year I have set my sights on learning more about field engineering tasks, logging into equipment and diagnosing faults. The Vodafone Maintenance crew have been brilliant at helping me understand how different technologies operate. There is a lot to learn and the technology moves and upgrades at such a fast pace, but I like a challenge.

Along with my rigging role, Obelisk are providing apprentices with a 2-year part time college course. I am in my second year of a level 6 course in 'Telecommunications and Data Networks Technician'. I have learned loads so far and the course subjects are very interesting. I know I've gone ‘full nerd’ when I find subjects interesting, such as algebraic equations to determine fibre attenuation! We have a 2-week block in college several times a year for lectures and outside of that, we have to complete reports on work-based learning. Having a great team around me has really helped with these reports and giving me hands-on experience.

I think all the field staff agree when I say the best part about the job is that every day is different. You never know where you will end up the next day, whether its 50 metres up a mast on top of a mountain or getting a cracking view of O'Connell Street from a rooftop in Dublin. Fighting feisty seagulls off is always a bit of craic too!

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