Invest in Skills You Can Use: Humboldt Graduate Inspired by Internship to Pursue a Career in Construction

Mica Luttrull never planned on attending college.

“I never envisioned myself going to college and I never wanted to go to college,” Luttrull said. “That hasn’t changed for me, even after graduating high school. I don’t want to spend money on a degree I am not certain will get me a good-paying job and I don’t want to be in debt.”

Luttrull builds a wooden stool. He was one of 12 interns in the St. Paul Minnesota Trades Academy’s summer internship cohort.

Luttrull, 19, a graduate of Humboldt High School in St. Paul recalls that it wasn’t until his senior year that everyone started talking about college.

“It went from taking standardized tests to all of a sudden feeling the pressure from everywhere – from peers, teachers, and counselors about which college you would attend,” Luttrull said. “I didn’t want to just spend money to go to a college if I wasn’t passionate about it and I didn’t really feel like I had other support or options.”

Luttrull candidly spoke about his concern with his English teacher Mr. Haefemeyer, who recommended he attend a meeting for a summer internship experience called the Minnesota Trades Academy.

“I was immediately interested because it would get me work experience and I could do hands-on types of work. At the time, I thought after I graduated, I would go to culinary school. I saw that as my only option,” Luttrull said. “But otherwise, I hadn’t heard of the Minnesota Trades Academy, and I didn’t know about careers in construction.”

Career Exploration with the Minnesota Trades Academy

“The best way to describe this experience is enlightening,” Luttrull said. “I feel like I’ve found many things I’m good at, I’m confident in my skills and I also know there are a number of careers out there where can I make a living by doing construction.”

For Luttrull, the best part of MTA is the apprenticeship training center tours and construction company visits.

“That’s where we do hands-on activities and learn about the trade,” Luttrull said. “We get information on the wages, benefits, retirement, and schooling and we test out the work. Construction is not all heavy lifting, it’s not all dirty work. There is a place for many talents and skills.”

Currently, Luttrull’s number one choice of trade is a career as a laborer.

“They act as spare hands on every job site,” Luttrull said. “Some trades get very specialized, whereas a laborer sees many different job sites and can be working on roads one day, then assisting a plumber or cutting drywall another day.”

Exploring careers in construction has Luttrull excited about his future career prospects. The time spent with MTA coordinator and mentor T.J. Austin has helped Luttrull define what work environment he needs to be successful.

“Variation is important to me. I can’t do the same thing repeatedly,” Luttrull said. “I also really enjoy helping others and being a point person for questions, after some of the tours I could even see myself being a union training coordinator.”

Advice for Enrolling in Minnesota Trades Academy

“More students need access to construction internships,” Luttrull said. “With the Minnesota Trades Academy, the pay is good and every day I am working on new projects and meeting people in the construction industry. I feel like if I talked with T.J. about an interest in getting to know more about a trade, he would make a phone call and point me to someone to talk with. He would advocate for me.”

To students who may not have experience in the trades, Luttrull added that should not deter someone from enrolling.

“I’ve had a lot of experience welding, woodworking, and taking shop classes since seventh grade. In some cases, people at MTA come to me for help,” Luttrull said. “But just because I took the classes, I did not know about half of the trades we toured. There is something beneficial for everyone at the Minnesota Trades Academy – a new skill to learn, an opportunity to network, a mentor, or a job.”

Construction Careers Foundation: Where Youth Explore Construction Careers

To read more stories similar to Mica Luttrull’s, visit the Success Stories page on

To learn more about the Minnesota Trades Academy, click here.

To explore more than 30+ careers in the construction industry, visit CCF’s Careers page.

Picking Up Speed, Central High School Student is motivated by his Minnesota Trades Academy Internship to join the trades

Jonas Roach (left) builds the leg of a step stool at the Minnesota Trades Academy.

What Minnesota lacks in mountains, the state makes up for in scenic, rugged outdoor trails. On hot summer days, Jonas Roach can be found mountain biking on trails in Salem Hills Park in Inver Grove Heights and Battle Creek Regional Park in St. Paul.

For Roach, biking serves many purposes. He loves being outdoors and staying physically fit. Biking is an activity that requires solo mental and physical endurance but can also be enjoyed for leisure with friends or competitively, through racing.

“I guess most people wouldn’t expect I am on a mountain biking team through Central High School (St. Paul),” Roach said. “I started mountain biking in seventh grade, and I began competing against kids at other local schools. It’s a community of outdoor athletes in the state that I think people overlook.”

When he’s not biking for the high school team, Roach also is a member of Central’s Nordic (cross-country) ski team. At 16 years old, he could solely focus on his school and extracurricular activities but the summer before his junior year, Roach applied for the Minnesota Trades Academy, a paid summer construction skills internship organized by the Twin Cities nonprofit Construction Careers Foundation.

“The Minnesota Trades Academy was my first experience learning about careers in construction,” Roach said. “My shop teacher recommended that I try this over the summer. It’s better than a regular summer job because I get paid to learn real job skills and travel to union training centers to see a ‘day-in-the-life’ of construction professionals in specific trades such as plumbing, pipefitting, tiling or bricklaying.”

If Roach pursues a career in construction, he would be the first in his family to join the trades.

“My family loves that I joined the Minnesota Trades Academy because I am making industry connections and deciding for myself what my next step is after high school,” Roach said.

Career Interests Range from Electrician to Operating Engineer

Roach entered the Minnesota Trades Academy with the goal of learning more about his intended future career path as an electrician.

“That was definitely the career I was interested in before I joined this internship but over this summer, I had the chance to see other trades in action,” Roach said. “Now I can see myself in a career as an electrician, but I also enjoyed pipefitting and the work the operating engineers do at Local 49.”

In his cohort, Roach was the only student selected from Central High School to receive an internship offer.

“I’m meeting a lot of people from different schools here and I get along with the other interns,” Roach said. “MTA helped me sort out that I prefer working in small teams or alone. I feel positively toward the construction trades as my future career pathway, now it’s just about deciding which apprenticeship I want to join and reviewing the wages and benefits each trade offers.”

Construction Careers Foundation: Where Youth Explore Construction Careers

To read more stories similar to Jonas Roach’s, visit the Success Stories page on

To learn more about the Minnesota Trades Academy, click here.

To explore more than 30+ careers in the construction industry, visit CCF’s Careers page.