NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nearly 200 people slept on the sidewalk in the rain for several days outside Union Local 12 in Long Island City, Queens — all for the chance to land a coveted union job.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports: Hoping To Get Set For Life

“I’ve been here since midnight on Thursday,” said Chris Felice of Patchogue, who was first in line. He’s eager to transition from insurance investor – to union mechanic.

“I was in insurance investments and everything went down with the economy,” he told CBS 2’s Jay Dow. “I’m not looking for a job. I’m looking for a career.”

Leonard LaMarco of Kearny, N.J. said “I’ve been here since eleven o’clock yesterday morning.”

Only 150 received a preliminary interview application for one of only 10 available mechanic apprenticeships.

John Thilbourg, of Williston Park, Long Island, was one of the lucky ones who got an application.  The 39-year-old man used to do demolition work and is now hoping for a job as an apprentice as a insulation mechanic on heating and cooling pipes.  It would start at $52 an hour.

john thilbourg Dozens Camp Out In Queens For Shot At Mechanic Apprenticeship

John Thilbourg (credit: CBS 2)

Thilbourg, who now is only able to pick up part time work,  is married and the  father of three children  betwen the ages of 12 and 17.

“I got a lot of pressure on me now,” he told CBS 2’s John Slattery. “It would take a lot off to have a job like this.  I want to get up and work every day. I don’t want to stay at home.”

The apprenticeship is also the first step to getting a coveted union card.

“That union card gives you the opportunity to work on union jobs in New York City and on Long Island, and more important, once you’re a mechanic, you can travel anywhere in the U.S. and Canada and work on those jobs also,” said Dave Soika, apprenticeship coordinator.

They’ll learn the ins and outs of heat and frost insulation in a building’s mechanical system, which includes pipes, ducts and boilers.

“You have to be able to sacrifice. We’re here, days in advance, camping out. And we understand what’s on the line. And we’re willing to grind it out in order to get there,” said Drew Rivera.

Cynthia Carire of Brooklyn spent two nights outside to get her spot in the mid 70s.

“It was hailing, like raining like crazy. Tents were like getting wet on the inside,” she recounted.

“It’s a four-year process. And there’s a lot of work involved,” Soika said.

After taking a look at the size of the crowd outside, Soika decided to increase the number of applications he’s handing out.

Waiting for days in the rain for a chance at a job… sign of the times, or too much? Leave a comment below…