It was expected that kids from my high school would go to a 4-year college after graduation. It’s what all my friends were doing; it’s what my family was pushing me towards. So I did – I enrolled to study Physics, something I thought I’d be interested in.
It wasn’t long before I realized that this wasn’t what I wanted to be doing day-in and day-out. Right out of high school is a little young for anybody to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives.
I spent the next few years working odd jobs like landscaping, but I knew I wanted more. I knew that I wanted some skills training and a career. So I went to my local career center and got my certificates in welding. From there, I was able to get a job at Crane 1. They even offered me an apprenticeship — an amazing opportunity for me to grow and learn in my new career.
Going to work in the manufacturing industry right out of high school isn’t something that many people think about. Everybody is looking to go to a university — I know I was. But I think it’s important that graduates know that skills training is an opportunity they can take advantage of. Had I known there was an alternative to a 4-year college, I definitely would have considered it.
Now, I’m a service technician and rebuild technician. It never crossed my mind that working on cranes — and the sense of accomplishment I get after a day of work — would be a career I’d be interested in, but it is. I work full-time and go to school two nights a week at Sinclair Community College, working towards my Industrial Maintenance certificate — fully paid for by my employer. I love what I do, I really do.