White Bear Lake, Minnesota – Minnesota Trades Academy (MTA) intern Nicole Hard is the ruler of her imagination. Through her experience with MTA, this 18-year-old is set to take her future in the construction trades to the next level and set goals for a successful career.
Hard has always been interested in working in the trades. After taking a year of joint high school and college credit classes at Century College in White Bear Lake, with a mix of construction-based courses in drywall and electricity – the decision to pursue a career in the trades came naturally to her. With a knack for hands-on and technical learning, math, and challenging herself in harsh environments, Hard was encouraged by her high school counselor to check out MTA for a summer of learning and opportunity.
The Minnesota Trades Academy is a program by the Construction Careers Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase the diversity of entrants into the construction trades and foster long-term construction careers. MTA is a summer internship program that supports this mission by offering paid summer construction internship experiences for selected high school youth. The goal of the program is to help youth prepare for adulthood through skill development, personal development, and knowledge on how to access good jobs with good benefits in the construction industry.
“MTA is different because we actually get to go visit the trade unions, go to different places, and do more projects. You get to learn more because it’s not just focused on one thing,” said Hard.
This summer, Hard has been able to sift through what she enjoys working on after visiting several different unions and learning more about each one. At the Boilermaker’s Union Local 647, Hard was drawn to the extreme heights, working in small spaces, and welding. Over at the Electrician’s Union Local 292, Hard got to challenge herself with mathematics, enjoying the process of connecting everything together.
“I don’t like sitting down as much, especially in school, so being able to go out and do things physically is more up my alley,” said Hard. “It’s fun because you have to work with other people, as well as yourself, and strengthen your leadership skills. Honing in on everybody else’s skills and working as a group is really cool.”
A career in the construction trades sets hard-working individuals up for success, exchanging effort and grit for satisfying results and rewards. For Hard, success means setting goals and achieving them. She likes pushing herself and the boundaries of her imagination. So long as she tries her best, every experience is worth it.
Hard’s passion for the trades stems from her love of the arts. For as long as she can remember, Hard has enjoyed writing stories by recording her stream of consciousness, writing fiction and adventure novels in her free time. She also enjoys photography, taking pictures of people and experimenting with different cameras and editing styles.
“When we went to the Cement Mason’s Local 633, just seeing all the different prints and designs you can do got me thinking of what I wanted to do. I want to build my own house in the future, and I want to design it and personalize it for myself. I could do that for other people, too. The possibilities are endless if you can put your mind to it and get it done,” said Hard.
As an intern with the Minnesota Trades Academy, Hard had the chance to explore the options available to her, opening a door of possibilities for her to take hold of. There’s no stopping where her imagination will take her. Hard has big plans for her future home, starting with a clear, floating staircase and pink and purple marble walls – both of these are non-negotiable. It’s a good thing she won’t have to compromise her vision, because she’ll be building it herself.
For more resources regarding a career in construction, visit www.ConstructionCareers.org.
For more stories similar to this one, view the Construction Careers Foundation Success Stories page.