Fiber Optic Cabinets, Cables, Pedestals and Terminals

Those are the words that my father would tell me as a shy little girl. I come from a large family - 7 brothers and 2 sisters. We all support each other - from the early years to today. As schoolchildren on snow days, my dad would take us kids to work with him. He drove a delivery truck, so imagine 3, 4 or maybe even 5 of us riding in the truck and working as we stopped at each store for delivery. I was the only daughter my dad would take along with my brothers. We had fun - but mostly a rewarding time as I learned to work in a male-dominated taught me to be the person I am today. My dad would tell me, “Don’t be afraid, just hold your head up and be strong”…and I did! 

As a little kid, you dream of what you want to be as a grown-up. Oh the many things...but what I do remember is “the telephone man” - he was always fascinating. You see, having many kids in a family means having many phones, so the phone man was a constant at our house. He would climb the pole or maybe he was just bringing us a new phone (oh the cool colors), but whatever he did that day, he would always include me to show me the interesting things he knew and could do. I liked tools, I liked working with my hands and learning what we call today “technology.” During those young impressionable days, one of my brothers and I would play “phone man” - placing wire clothes hangers around our waists, hooking them onto the banister and hanging out over the stairs. I can’t believe we never fell. 

Fast forward through high school graduation. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I wanted to find a job and get my life started. You see, I wasn’t a fan of school, so I didn’t plan to go off to college. Instead, I found myself in the healthcare industry, made my way through medical assistant training and worked for a bit of time. My older sister, working at our local telephone company, was a telephone (wo)man - one of the first women hired to work outside. What an inspiration to me. An opportunity came to me to apply for a position working in the office at Bell. I was hired and my telecommunications career started. After a couple of years, I was promoted to a “splicer” (I became the telephone [wo]man!), where I prospered, learned everything I could and took care of our customers. I eventually moved into management - running crews in the field - then moved into technical training, where I became the outside plant trainer for all technicians. I instructed technicians on safety/safe pole climbing - all the way through to construction, installation and repair of our copper and fiber networks. 

After many years of instructing our technicians, I decided it was time for me to move on and share my wealth of knowledge with the masses. I was provided with an opportunity to work for Clearfield, where I became the corporate technical trainer. In these past 10 years, I have created a world-class manufacturers’ technical training program that teaches our customers’ workforces in the recommended best practices of installing and working in the entire Clearfield product portfolio. I have created and delivered curriculum for an industry certification, Fiber Optic Association (FOA) – CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician), that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor and around the world as a leading certification. 

Today, I am the Director of Technical Training and Support here at Clearfield. I have developed a very dedicated team to provide this support and education to our customers. This team will keep Clearfield moving forward into the future. 

As I continue my career, I have joined many groups to extend my education and to deliver what I have learned to those in need. One of the most rewarding groups I work with is the Fiber Broadband Association’s Women in Fiber (WIF) and wow! There are so many amazing women in our industry that do amazing things! One of my passions is to see more young girls become part of our industry, where they can thrive in a very rewarding career, no matter what they choose to do. As a committee member for our Women in Fiber STEM group, we look to encourage young girls to have a passion for fiber!

Last year at the Fiber Connect show in Orlando, Florida, the Women in Fiber STEM group invited young ladies who are involved in a wonderful program called “Tech Sassy Girlz.” Based in Orlando, their mission is to empower middle and high school girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields through college preparation, career readiness, mentoring and entrepreneurship. Tech Sassy Girlz is designed to provide girls from grades 6 – 12 with exposure and access to the STEM fields through college preparation, career readiness, events, mentoring and hands-on learning experiences. They’ll connect with women leaders in STEM-related fields, participate in workshops and technology tours, have the chance to network with industry professionals and intern with tech companies.

A group of these high school girls joined a panel discussion with women from the industry, including Clearfield’s own CEO, Cheri Beranek, who provided these young ladies with a great view into the future. We gave them a tour around the show floor to visit selected vendors and learn about different aspects of the fiber broadband industry. Each vendor delivered a different learning experience. At the Clearfield booth, I taught the girls that fiber is FUN! This gave them the opportunity to see that girls can work in the field. Putting together our fiber connectors, as shown in the above photo, was a great learning experience for all of us. Even girls with pretty fingernails can do it! 

When I travel and work with our customers in the field, it’s generally with men. Unfortunately, I don’t get to see a lot of ladies working in the field, but when I do...we connect. They ask questions and are curious about how I came into the industry, how I made it work as a female in a field dominated by men and want to know how they could also make this work. Going to tradeshows, I meet a lot of women with a broad scope of titles and one of the biggest questions they ask is, “How do you do it?” My answer is, “Don’t be afraid.” Just hold your head high, look them in the eyes and do it! 

Celebrating this year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science and the Super Bowl on the same day (February 11) the excitement of the first ever Professional Women’s Hockey League...means that AMAZING things are ahead! Here we are - fighting the fight and wanting our team to win. Stay strong, women, and don’t be afraid - we have a place in this game! 

By Kelly Weissmann 

Kelly Weissmann, Director of Technical Training and Support at Clearfield, has over 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. Kelly came to Clearfield 10 years ago to oversee and grow the technical training program that we offer to customers. 

Kelly and her team provide classroom, hands-on training for our customers on the proper installation methods for all of our products. Kelly’s vast knowledge also allows her to provide a variety of curriculum to cover fiber optic technology, fiber management, the need to inspect and clean connectors when necessary and more. 

Kelly’s experience includes working as a universal tech/splicer in the network, then moving to technical training, where she thoroughly trained all technicians in safe pole climbing/ladder safety and all OSP technicians in construction, maintenance and repair of fiber optic networks, copper networks and premise coax networks.