Irondale Graduate Refines Her Construction Skills at 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 they sold his house, I got a bunch of his power tools which was cool.”

Sinniger is considering pursuing a sheetmetal apprenticeship. Her favorite early memories of building were with her grandpa. (Photo Credit: Emily Sweeney)

Inspired by her grandfather, she has enjoyed building since a young age.

“I used to build with Legos a lot,” Sinniger said. “I think you’re never too old for them.”

Her construction skills have helped her with many areas of life, such as her pets. With seven bunnies and two dogs, she built hutches and homes for each of them.

“My friends and family would describe me as creative,” Sinniger said. “With my uncle’s help, I was completely able to design and build homes for all of my animals. Although it was a lot of work, it was so worth it to see it come together.”

Sinniger also has worked construction jobs in the past with a family friend.

“We built a house, re-did a bathroom, put together two different garages, and other projects,” Sinniger recalled. “I liked it because every day was different and I enjoy hands-on work.”

Her favorite part about building the house was watching the blueprints turn into tangible rooms that people would live in everyday.

“It was satisfying to see something come out of literally nothing,” Sinniger said.

Besides taking care of her animals, and partaking in the Minnesota Trades Academy, Sinniger excels at managing her time. Over the years, she consistently balanced four jobs, proving that she can accomplish anything with her strong work ethic.

Teacher noticed Sinniger’s hardwork, dedication, recommends Minnesota Trades Academy

Due to Sinniger’s reputation of being a hard working handy-woman, her teacher recommended the Minnesota Trades Academy Track II internship program to her.

“My teacher said that toward the end of the internship, they could help me start a career path into construction,” Sinniger said. “I like building things, so I thought that exploring different parts of the trades would help me decide what I want to do in the future.”

The Minnesota Trades Academy offers two different tracks for students to learn about the construction trades through hands-on experience. The Track II internship program is a nine-week trade specialization course. The completion of both tracks can set a student up to launch a career in the construction industry, beginning with a registered apprenticeship with a Minnesota building trades union for those who are 18 and have earned a high school diploma or GED.

“I don’t like being in a classroom setting, my teachers know that I enjoy working with my hands and I can learn that way in all different types of setting,” Sinniger said. “Hands-on learning is best for me. I don’t even like sitting that much because I get fidgety.”

While participating in the Minnesota Trades Academy, interns construct mini projects and try out numerous parts of the construction process to learn if they might want to pursue a construction trades apprenticeship after high school.

“I think working in construction puts you in a good headspace,” Sinniger said. “It keeps me busy and it can distract you from other things that are bothering you.”

Sinniger described her on-the-job attitude as “hyper-focused.”

“I’m always planning and I’d rather work hard and get things done well and on time than take a break and talk,” Sinniger said. “That’s something we can do after our job is complete.”

In addition, Minnesota Trades Academy interns visit up to 16 different apprenticeship-training centers where they receive training and supervision from construction pros.

“I especially liked visiting the sheet metal workers and the boilermakers because everything about it was very hands-on and the process kept me interested the whole time,” Sinniger said. “I thought it was cool that we had hands-on opportunities throughout the internship to test out what we liked and gain new skills.”

Mother’s Support

Sinniger lives with her mom and has several best friends whom she considers family.

“My mom thinks choosing a career in the trades would be a good fit for me and that my grandpa would be very proud of me if I were to follow his footsteps,” Sinniger said. “We built some stuff and I brought it home and she cried and said, ‘Grandpa would be so proud.’”

With Sinniger’s experience with the Minnesota Trades Academy Track II internship, she now has more career path opportunities for her future.

“My family is always asking me what kind of college plans I have and I tell them that with the trades I don’t necessarily need it, I would rather just go into a career,” Sinniger said. “I don’t think people understand or know all of the benefits that come with a career in construction – like medical and dental, insurance and a pension fund–when you join a construction trades union.”

Interested in a career in construction?

This year, Sinniger plans to get an apartment with her friends and with a career in construction; she can now plan on making the move.

“I’m most proud of getting through high school, it was a really rough time for me and I made it through that with all the stuff I had going on,” recalled Sinniger. “I’m now looking forward to the future.”

Students who would like to learn more about careers in Minnesota’s construction industry should visit ConstructionCareers.org. To learn more about the Minnesota Trades Academy and to apply for the program’s internship program for the summer of 2020, click here.

The Minnesota Trades Academy is supported through the generosity of the following organizations: the Construction Careers Foundation, Apprenticeship Coordinators Association of Minnesota (ACAM), City of Minneapolis/STEP UP Program, City of St. Paul Facilities Department, City of St. Paul/Right Track Program, City of St. Paul/HREEO, Kraus-Anderson Construction, M.A. Mortenson Co., McGough Construction Company, the Minnesota State Legislature, Minneapolis and St. Paul Building and Construction Trades, OPUS Foundation, PCL Construction, Ramsey County/U LEAD Program, Ryan Companies, Saint Paul Police Department, St. Paul Public Schools, and White Bear Lake Area Schools.