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.
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.”
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.