Cheyanne Rhoten recently celebrated one year as a LAN Technician for J. Daniel, an Ohio-based Danella company. She sat down with us to talk about her background, her daily responsibilities, and what it’s like as the sole female on her team.
Cheyanne, for starters, what exactly does a LAN Technician do?
We run and install Local Area Network extensions, also known as Ethernet cables. They connect computers to networks. In most scenarios, our team is installing them indoors, in corporate locations ranging from offices to company warehouses.
How physical is your work?
Pretty physical! A lot of times we are working in small spaces or warehouses, using scissor lifts to reach high places and navigate the practical challenges of the space. We work on a lot of ceilings – drop ceilings in particular – so it’s not always a clean environment. There’s dust, debris, insulation. There are other sensitivities we need to remain aware of, too, like heavy equipment and hazardous material, especially when we’re working in warehouses.
You recently celebrated one year with the company. How did you land at J. Daniel?
I came directly from residential construction. My father owns a construction company, and I started working with him as soon as I could drive, doing everything from pole building construction to finishing concrete. I have an associate’s degree in criminal justice, but I never pursued that field because I really enjoy physical work.
But the construction job with my dad wasn’t always stable. For example, there wasn’t always work in the winter. Wanting something more reliable, I applied for a laborer position at J. Daniel. I interviewed, and was offered this technician position in the LAN installation department. I didn’t know anything about LAN, but J. Daniel trained me. In addition to technician responsibilities, I handle a lot of the communication with clients and I am beginning to train new team members.
What’s it like being the only female in your department?
It’s normal to me! We all get along really well; it’s like having a lot of brothers. The fact that I’m a female has never been an issue, but it does feel like an asset at times. Sometimes I offer viewpoints or considerations that are particularly valuable to the team.
What is your day-to-day like?
Our team meets at our shop around 6:30am. Usually inventory is ready to go, because we prep it the day before. We head to the jobsite, but before going in, we review potential safety hazards. Danella is really attentive to safety precautions and training. It’s especially necessary to our team because we’re often working in downtown Cincinnati where there are a lot of variables outside of our control.
Once we arrive at a jobsite, we meet with the customer’s representative, discuss any needs, and go in and do our job. The cable we install can run anywhere from less than one hundred feet to more than one thousand feet. Most jobs last four to five hours. Afterward, we return to the shop and prep inventory for the next day.
What do you enjoy most about being a technician?
I like seeing so many different workplaces and office cultures. I also appreciate the chance to interact with company leaders. Most CEOs I talk with are really personable! But mostly I like that every day presents different demands. Though it can sometimes be frustrating, I enjoy the challenge.
Are there any more thoughts you’d like to share on being a woman in a male-dominated field?
Some of my female friends who carry student loan debt have said to me, “I wish I’d considered the trades, because your earning potential is similar to mine without the student loan debt.” It’s not for everyone, but if a woman thinks the trades might be for her, there’s little to lose by trying. I also think the trades are particularly well-suited for women who aren’t inclined toward sitting all day or to indoor office settings.
Do you have any unique activities or hobbies you want to share?
I like to run and am training for a triathlon. I haven’t signed up for one yet but plan to soon, for sometime in 2020. Also, I live on a farm and was raised on a farm! My fiancé and I tend 300 acres of soybeans.