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Success Stories

Cooking up Construction: A Brooklyn Center Graduate’s Culinary Interest Helps Him on the Construction Site

Brooklyn Center, Minnesota — From steak and mac ‘n cheese to shrimp fried rice, Tyrrice Maybell cooks it all. Many of the 18-year-old’s favorite memories growing up have revolved around learning to cook. He practices regularly, serving his mother and younger brother their favorite foods. “Cooking is a passion of mine. I’m a laid-back guy […]

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WWE, Anime, and Music Production Fill Brooklyn Park Student’s Mind … and now Careers in Construction, Too

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota — Some 16-year-olds daydream about what their futures look like; Joseph K. Tisdale tacks down those thoughts and tests them out. Entering his senior year at Brooklyn Center High School, Tisdale is spending his summer playing video games, watching anime and WWE wrestling and exploring careers in construction through his internship with […]

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No Construction Experience, No Problem: Electrical Apprenticeship gives St. Paul Resident New Life Path

Saint Paul, Minnesota — Toua Yang started his first day as an electrical apprentice unfamiliar with how to use a drill and with no previous experience working in construction. “It was intimidating at first – not knowing anything, just going up on a 6-foot ladder was scary, but now all of that is second nature […]

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Video Game Tasks Simulate Career as an Operating Engineer for White Bear Lake Graduate

White Bear Lake, Minnesota — In his free time, White Bear Lake High School graduate Nick Berends plays a variety of video games. However, he never thought the gaming skills he develops every day would be relevant to his future career path in construction. “The first game I really enjoyed growing up was the first […]

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A love for HGTV inspires Middle School Teacher to become a Plumbing Apprentice

Carly Carey loves learning, and her enjoyment of gathering and sharing knowledge made teaching a natural career fit. As a middle school English and Social Studies teacher for more than 11 years, when the pandemic started Carey optimistically considered alternative career paths. “I’ve always loved HGTV – ‘This Old House’ specifically, it’s probably how they […]

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Highland Park Career Path Coordinator, Basketball Coach Teaches Students about Minnesota’s Construction Trades

Highland Park High School Boys’ Head Basketball coach and self-proclaimed “basketball junkie,” Jesse McCann has been a student of the game since his early elementary years; he has enjoyed the game in all facets as a fan, player, and coach. He admired the play of point guards John Stockton, Steve Nash, and Jason Kidd growing […]

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Brooklyn Center High School Addresses Skills Gap in Construction Trades; Renews Students’ Interest in Apprenticeship

A growing number of Minnesota teachers and guidance counselors are recognizing a frustration among their high school students – young people who know that college or the military isn’t right for them but are not sure what else they could do for a career. Seeing an opportunity to help these students, Julie Gloege took on […]

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Learning Styles Mirror Life Skills for Oiler Annesa Loew

Birchwood, Wisconsin — In middle school, Annesa Loew thought some of her math and science classes were just not that interesting. It wasn’t until she attended a project-based charter high school that she realized how a teacher’s teaching style could affect how much she enjoyed a class. Today, 22-year-old Loew has found the perfect learning […]

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Once an Apprentice, Now a Training Director for Plumbers Local 15

Master Plumber Trevor Ogilvie graduated as a journeyman from Local 15 in 2006. Ogilvie has since served the plumbing field in a multitude of roles, most recently coming full circle as the union training director, leading apprentices through the same skills he learned earlier in his career. Where others see obstacles, Trevor Ogilvie sees opportunities. […]

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Gregg Adler, Skilled Trades Educator at St. Paul Harding High School Harding High School Career and Technical Education teacher Gregg Adler waits for his students to join a distance learning Google Meet session. As the mics turn on and class starts, Adler checks in with each student. He knows their favorite cars and what positions they […]

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In her senior year of high school, Julia Theobald received some advice that most young adults have never heard. Julia was told there was an option other than college or the military after high school. In fact, her stepfather advised her to not even bother with college. “I thought, why would I go into debt […]

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Confusion After College Leads to Career as a Laborer

Mariah Lenon, Laborer, Real Stories

By: Amanda Pedersen Originally from Minneapolis, Mariah Lenon graduated from Thomas Edison High School and felt that her immediate next step in life was to attend college. “I felt a lot of pressure from my family, coaches, and teachers to go straight into college right after high school because it was a way to become […]

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Career as Bricklayer Provides for Family of Seven

Sean Robinson, Bricklayer, Real Stories

By: Amanda Pedersen One of Sean Robinson’s favorite past-times is playing with his five children. They read, play basketball, and are genuinely excited to spend time together. A resident of Golden Valley, Minnesota, a suburb in the Twin Cities, Robinson, 39, has found a career to provide for his five children. After Robinson graduated from […]

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Steadfast Role Model and Mother pursues a Career in Construction

Megan Ringwelski, Sprinklerfitter, Real Stories

By: Amanda Pedersen Megan Ringwelski’s three young daughters have a strong role model, their mother. “My girls think I’m a firefighter,” said Ringwelski, 37, “I’ll take it.” Although she does put out fires, she is technically not a firefighter. Instead, she is a sprinkler fitter apprentice through the Sprinkler Fitters Local 417 union. Ringwelski is […]

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Union benefits inspire St. Paul Resident to study Carpentry

Louis Rojas, Carpenter, Real Stories

By: Amanda Pedersen St. Paul resident, Louis Rojas, 41, was not content with his desk job as a warehouse manager and was looking for a new career with better pay and benefits. One of his good friends, who is currently a carpenter, suggested that Rojas go to the local union center to learn about career […]

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Sharlo Strickler Joins the Family Tradition of Tile Setting

Sharlo Strickler, Tile Setter, Real Stories

By: Amanda Pedersen Tile setters are skilled craft workers and a vital part in the construction of any building. They are in charge of the installation of hard tile, marble, wood tiles, walls, and a variety of different surfaces. Monticello resident, Sharlo Strickler, 38, has tile setting in her blood. “My mom and dad were […]

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Live Debt Free with a Career in Construction

Zach Poulson, Bricklayer, Real Stories

By: Amanda Pedersen Pennsylvania native, Zach Poulson, 29, has always had a passion for science and creativity. While in college, Poulson found himself working in the masonry trades to make ends meet while completing his degree in Earth Sciences. “Working construction was a natural fit for me because the work was interesting,” Poulson said. He […]

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Creativity leads to a Rock-Solid Career as a Tile Layer

Jesse Stonehouse, Tile Layer , Real Stories

By: Amanda Pedersen Jesse Stonehouse, 29, enjoys working with his hands. Excelling in art in high school, he was even offered a scholarship for graphic design. Along with being artistically gifted, he is also fluent in American Sign Language. He credits his father, a woodworker, for his passion for hands-on learning. “Through growing up and […]

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Checking off a Bucket List Goal evolves into Long-Term Career

Heather Rudiger, Boilermaker, Real Stories

By: Amanda Pedersen Family, friends, and peers of Heather Rudiger would describe the 28-year-old as a hard worker. As a member of the Boilermakers Local #647 union, Rudiger, has worked her way up the ranks, with her sight set on becoming a journeyperson at the completion of her four year apprenticeship. Even though her brother […]

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Dream Job and Career found in Union Carpentry

Gabe Fanning, Carpenter, Real Stories

By: Amanda Pedersen Do you dream of having a career where everyday you actually wake up and look forward to going to work? Gabe Fanning, 39, is one of the few people who goes to work and does his dream job everyday. “For me, my job is pure enjoyment,” Fanning said. “It’s like being able […]

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Bryce Brahaum Joins a New Team through a Career as a Union Tile Layer

Bryce Brahaum, Tile Layer, Real Stories

By: Amanda Pedersen Growing up in Bloomington, Indiana, Bryce Brahaum was a talented baseball pitcher and always enjoyed being a part of a team. During Brahaum’s junior year of high school, he received a full-ride athletic scholarship to Illinois University for baseball and decided to take it. After spending a year in Illinois, Brahaum transferred […]

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Career Switch: School Teacher discovers passion for Carpentry

Dan Stanton, Carpenter, Real Stories

By: Amanda Pedersen Getting his degree in education from St. Cloud State University, Dan Stanton, 32, did not initially imagine himself going into the construction trades. After all, as an elementary and middle school teacher for six years, Stanton thought he would be teaching for the rest of his life. But, during a break, Stanton […]

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First in the Family: Oakdale resident graduates high school, applies for a Career in Construction

Justyn Lundgren, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Amanda Pedersen Hard work and persistence still payoff. Justyn Lundgren, 20, will be the first person in his family to graduate from high school. But he will savor his graduation day even more because it was through his choices, hardwork and initiative which allowed him to walk across the stage. Only a few years […]

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Passion for Cooking Leads to a Possible Career in Construction

Daunte Greyhair, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Amanda Pedersen Life often offers its own twists and turns. You dream of one thing one day, only to find that it opens a door to something you never considered before. So it was for Daunte Greyhair, 19, who thought that his passion was cooking. He dreamed of becoming a chef and owning a […]

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Roseville High School Graduate Finds Stability with Career in Construction

Deci Nunez, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Amanda Pedersen When you move around a lot as a kid, you grow up learning to adapt quickly to your new environment and, you learn to value stability. While Decidecio “Deci” Nunez, 19, has moved around a lot — eight schools since his 5th grade — he doesn’t let that stifle him. He is […]

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Irondale Graduate Refines Her Construction Skills at Minnesota Trades Academy

Marina Sinniger, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Amanda Pedersen Irondale graduate, Marina Sinniger, has construction in her blood. Learning from her grandfather who was a sheet metal worker, she has been tinkering since she was a kid. “He taught me what he could because I was too young to work with most of the power tools,” said nineteen-year old Sinniger. “When […]

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Talented Skateboarder finds new passion in Construction

Lucas Moren, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Amanda Pedersen Precision, creativity, and self-awareness is what it takes for a skater to learn a new trick. Learning from each failed attempt, a skate-boarder gets back on the board and attempts the trick again — until it’s absolutely perfect. Recent White Bear Lake Area Learning Center graduate Lucas Moren can be found doing […]

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Passion for Helping Others found in Construction Career

Riley Wolf, Minnesota Trades Academy,

By: Amanda Pedersen When Riley Wolf was a child, he wanted to be a firefighter. He even signed up for a volunteer program at age 16. But now, at age 20, Wolf is considering a career in construction. “Construction is a lot like being a firefighter — its manual work but you have to think […]

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Senior at Irondale High School is not Afraid to Try New Things

Gary Woodward, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Amanda Pedersen Being curious and open to learning new things that challenge you is a skill that many people wish they had. Most people would say that the butterfly is the hardest stroke in swimming. Some can practice for years without perfecting it. Gary Woodward, 17, is someone who is not afraid to work […]

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Dungeons and Dragons to Career in Construction


By: Amanda Pederson Elaborate Dungeons & Dragons campaigns can take a player from solving intricate puzzles to engaging in intense battles. Embarking upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting, players in D&D use their creative minds to construct game characters and work together for a common goal. And that’s exactly the creative thrill that Kyle […]

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Learn2Build demolishes Gender Stigmas in the construction trades

Aylli Alford, Learn2Build

By:Karin Ellefson Before signing up for the Learn2Build summer construction experience program, 12-year-old Aylli Alford had never considered that she might enjoy working hands-on with tools and supplies. Aylli, a 7th grader from Washington Technology Magnet School has always had a passion for drawing. She excels in art class and spends her free time with […]

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Nine-Year-Old Gets Early Start to a Career in the Construction Industry with Learn2Build

Ava Peterson, Learn2Build

By Karin Ellefson When nine-year-old Ava Peterson puts her mind to something, she does it. So when the fourth grader from Chelsea Heights Elementary School in St. Paul heard about Learn2Build’s summer construction camp experience, she wanted in. Though a stranger to most of the other students and a year younger, Ava was determined to […]

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Karen Student from St. Paul’s Harding Senior High School on Track for a Career in Construction  

Satlwe Moo, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Emily Sweeney Satlwe Moo found the perfect summer job. A job where he could learn something new and work on his physical health. All while getting paid for it. Starting his senior year at Harding High School this fall, Moo, a resident of St. Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood is optimistic about his future – […]

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Grandfather and Minnesota Trade Academy Inspire Future Electrician

Ivis Carranza, Minnesota Trades Academy

By Emily Sweeney Ivis Carranza’s biggest role model in life is his grandfather, a man who showed him the value of hard work and encouraged Carranza to “take every opportunity to learn new things.” At 20 years old, Carranza has already taken those words to heart. Before starting classes at St. Paul College, he decided […]

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Roosevelt Student finds Empowerment, Independence in Construction Internship

Omelkeir Muhumed, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Emily Sweeney Omelkeir Muhumed’s name means “bringing goodness” and she does that often when she leads by example, as an older sister, as a student and on the construction site. The Roosevelt 10th grader is the oldest of eight children in her family. Her youngest brother is 10 months old. “I always help out […]

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Minneapolis High School Senior Uses Teamwork in Soccer and Construction Internship

William Quito, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Emily Sweeney William Quito is the type of person you want on your team. Whether it’s on the soccer field, in the classroom or at work, Quito has a can-do attitude that motivates those around him to strive for success. A rising senior at South High School in Minneapolis, Quito sees parallels between his […]

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Washington High School Senior’s Positive First Construction Experience Drives Interest in the Field

Kong Xiong, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Emily Sweeney St. Paul resident Kong Xiong had little experience and almost no interest in construction before this summer. But after enrolling in Step-Up, a youth achievement and career exploration program at Washington Technology Magnet School in St Paul, Xiong, a rising senior, wanted to gain work experience and learn new skills. That’s why […]

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Highland Park Junior Pursues Construction Internship with Goal of Becoming an Electrician

Daniel Ryan, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Emily Sweeney Daniel Ryan starts his junior year this fall at Highland Park High School in St. Paul and he’s already planning for life after high school. The first step of Ryan’s post-high school plan was put into motion this summer when he signed up for a paid summer construction internship through the Minnesota […]

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Como High School Student finds Art, Creativity, and Purpose in Construction Work

Charlahn “Lahni” Maggitt, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Emily Sweeney For Charlahn “Lahni” Maggitt, being creative is part of how he expresses himself. “If I looked up a picture, I could draw it,” Maggitt said. “Other people definitely describe me as creative because I like all kinds of drawing, painting, poetry, and even sculpting.” An 11th grader at Como Park Senior High […]

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Internship Allows Minneapolis High School Student to Learn About His Future in Minnesota’s Construction Trades

Mohamud Ibrahim, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Emily Sweeney Mohamud Ibrahim doesn’t like sitting. He’d rather be outside playing soccer and scoring goals. Anything – anything – to stay active. To use his hands. To move his feet. So, to keep himself moving this summer, Ibrahim wanted to find hands-on work that would allow him to be outside. That’s why the Minneapolis […]

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Minneapolis High School Graduate Prepares for a Career in Minnesota’s Construction Industry with Summer Internship

Deairion Rouser, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Emily Sweeney Deairion Rouser’s friends, family and teachers describe him as a curious learner. He’s always looking for new opportunities and he arrives ready to learn and participate. Rouser graduated from Transition Plus High School in Minneapolis this spring, where a job coordinator recommended that he apply for the Minnesota Trades Academy (MTA), a […]

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Somali Teen Sees a Future in the Construction Trades

Samira Alden, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Karin Ellefson Samira Alden wanted to push herself and try something new, so she signed up for the Minnesota Trades Academy. The Minnesota Trades Academy is a paid summer construction internship experience for selected Twin Cities area high school youth. Offering two different tracks, students learn about the construction trades through hands-on experiences. Track […]

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Brooklyn Center High School Student with Two Division III Football Scholarship Offers Considers Career in Construction

Rome Robinson, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Emily Sweeney Family, friends and teachers go to Rome Robinson when they need something fixed. “Oh man, people ask me all the time,” Robison said. “I’ve fixed my door, my dad’s car, windows, stuff like that.” So it probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows Robinson that he would apply for a […]

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Minnesota Trades Academy Helps Student Learn About the Construction Field

Alejandro Anderson, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Morgan Brackin An incoming junior at North Community High School in Minneapolis, Alejandro Anderson, was excited to join the Minnesota Trades Academy to start learning about his options after high school. Like many Minnesota high school students, Anderson is interested in attending a four-year university after high school. And, like many students, he knows […]

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Recent Graduate, Immigrant explores future in engineering

Abdi Ahmed, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Karin Ellefson Recent graduate from Edison High School, Abdi Ahmed loves working with his hands and being active, but like many 18-year-olds, he is in search for an answer to a question: “What should I do with my life now?” Originally from Ethiopia, Africa, Ahmed lived as a refugee and came to the United […]

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Minneapolis High School Senior Balances Two Jobs, Construction Internship

Gabriella Soika, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Emily Sweeney Starting a career in construction offers a gateway for a young woman to realize her dream of owning her own business someday. Gabriella Soika knows what it means to work hard. As a rising senior at the High School For Recording Arts a public charter school located in Saint Paul’s Midway neighborhood, […]

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Edison High School student enjoys staying fit, considers career in construction

William Thomas-Brown, Minnesota Trades Academy

By: Emily Sweeney When a football coach needs speed, he calls on William Thomas-Brown. Not many student athletes can match Thomas-Brown’s high energy on and off the field, and even fewer athletes have the endurance to play wide receiver, quarterback and running back all for the same team. Thomas-Brown is excited for the fall football […]

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Learn2Build, Design and Modeling Class Inspires Middle School Students

Matthew Brown, Learn2Build

By: Emily Sweeney For most kids, summer is all about relaxing and not having homework. But to Matthew Brown, this summer is about learning, building, and designing before he starts seventh grade at Sunrise Park Middle School in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. That’s why he participated in White Bear Lake Area High School’s Learn2Build event, […]

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Learn2Build spurs kids’ curiosity in construction careers

Jonny Hendrickson, Learn2Build

By: Emily Sweeney Jonny Hendrickson learns best when you can answer his two favorite questions: why things work, and how to make things work better. That’s why the sixth-grader from Sunrise Park Middle School participated in White Bear Lake Area High School’s recent Learn2Build event, one of several daylong programs hosted throughout Minnesota this summer […]

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Students Build Bridges, Explore Construction Trades

Elias Ramirez, Learn2Build

By: Emily Sweeney There’s no need to reach for a textbook when you can ask Elias Ramirez about gears, tools, or mechanical advantage. The White Bear Lake sixth-grader’s passion for science and construction is obvious. That’s why he participated in White Bear Lake Area High School’s recent Learn2Build event, one of several daylong programs hosted […]

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Friends Explore Construction Careers through Learn2Build

Dylan Combs and Landon Kohler, Learn2Build

By: Emily Sweeney Central Middle School seventh graders Dylan Combs and Landon Kohler have known each other since first grade. Like many of their peers, Dylan and Landon enjoy playing sports and doing activities with friends. That’s why the pair participated in White Bear Lake Area High School’s Learn2Build event, one of several daylong programs […]

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Arturo Gonzalez Finds a Career at Unexpected Heights

Arturo Gonzalez, Glazier

During his senior at Owatonna High School, and the year immediately following high school, while many of his friends went to college or entered military, Arturo Gonzalez felt stuck. A job working in an office didn’t feel quite right to him because he knew he liked being outside and working with his hands too much, […]

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Minnesota Woman Finds Her Passion in Being an Electrician

Grace Weik, Electrician

“No, it’s not for girls.” Those words never sat well for Grace Weik. Imagine you have an interest in trying something and you’re told that you shouldn’t pursue it because… …you’re female. Back at Fairfax High School in Fairfax, Virginia, Weik joined the theatre tech crew and noticed that she really enjoyed building the sets […]

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Bricklayer Journeyman Andre McHenry Finds Career That Changes His Life

Andre McHenry, Bricklayer

By McKenna Manalli As a kid, Andre McHenry loved playing with Legos. Fast-forward 15 or so years and McHenry has found a career where he can knock down walls, build them back up on a larger scale and be a part of making buildings he dreamed about building as a kid. McHenry works as a […]

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Local 49 Apprentice Julia Theobald Finds Success as a Heavy Equipment Operator

Julia Theobald, Operating Engineer

By McKenna Manalli In her senior year of high school, Julia Theobald received some advice that most young adults have never heard. Julia was told there was an option other than college or the military after high school. In fact, her stepfather advised her to not even bother with college. “I thought, why would I […]

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Heavy Equipment Operator Finds Success by Taking Initiative

Mahaila Houle, Operating Engineer

Mahaila Houle’s Path to a Career in Minnesota’s Construction Industry By McKenna Manalli Mahaila Houle’s first dream job was to be a ballerina. Granted this was when she was four years old. Since then, she’s changed a bit. Houle, 23, went from future ballerina, to being a tomboy, to going to college for art, then […]

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Construction Career Lets Ricky Garbow Achieve Childhood Dream

RICKY GARBOW , Operating Engineer

By Sonja Mischke In the summer, when the day was hot and school was a distant memory, when kids were racing to their local pools and playing until the sun went down, Ricky Garbow was dreaming about construction machines. Although his friends would ask him to accompany them to the beach or park, Garbow would […]

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“I always loved playing in the dirt as a child. Now I’m getting paid to do it. It’s my dream job!” According to many career experts, the clue to finding a career that you will love rests in looking back to what you loved to do as a child. For Mike Masten lll, a 27-year-old […]

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Amanda Gardas, Apprentice

St. Anthony Village Woman Finds Her Purpose in Pipefitting For Amanda Gardas, college or the military weren’t the answers. And then she found pipefitting. In her senior year at St. Anthony Village High School, Amanda Gardas applied to attend the Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). Not out of any particular desire to continue her […]

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MN Trades Academy Interns Build a Home, Make Friends of a Lifetime

Ahleah and Halle, Internship

MN Trades Academy Interns Build a Home, Make Friends of a Lifetime For some students, high school is about going to pep rallies, studying for exams and getting a diploma. For others, such as Ahleah Harris and Halle Arneson, high school is so much more. They are both involved in the Minnesota Trades Academy, a […]

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Woman Makes Journey to America to Become Electrician and Challenge Expectations

Helen Spindler, Electrician

Learning a new trade is no walk in the park. And Helen Spindler knows that better than anybody. After leaving Tanzania for America, she took her career in a completely different direction. And, while taking care of her family and building a future in construction, Helen is challenging traditional expectations for women and breaking down […]

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Rasheda Jenkins, Laborer

A job is never just a job. We get jobs to support families and pay bills. We learn new skills, and learn how to provide value to our employers and our customers. We meet new people – coworkers who become our friends or, maybe even become spouse. We contribute to our community and to our […]

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Jared Anderson, Sheet Metal Worker

There are many paths to success. For some, that choice is clear-cut: take on some student loans, get a degree, and work from a desk. For others, that means joining the military and serving the country. Sometimes, this path might end up being a mash-up of experiences to find out what works and what doesn’t. […]

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Lah Htoo, High School Student

Hands-on, paid summer internship experience in the Minnesota Trades Academy helps students learn about construction career choices Some high school students definitely know they want to go to college. Others, the military. But there are many students who don’t know exactly what they want to do. They do know that they want something different. For […]

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