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 paid summer construction internship experience for selected Twin Cities-area high school students.
Rouser joined the Minnesota Trades Academy to take his next step after high school by gaining work experience in the building trades.
“When I graduated I was wondering ‘What should I do next with my life?’’” Rouser said. “With the Minnesota Trades Academy you can get some early money, get an early start in a construction career and get experience right away.”
The Minnesota Trades Academy offers two tracks for students to learn about Minnesota’s construction trades through hands-on experience. Track I is a six-week introduction to construction career opportunities. Youth who participate in Track I can move onto Track II, a nine-week trade specialization course the following summer. The completion of both tracks can set a student up to launch a career in the construction industry, beginning with an apprenticeship with a Minnesota building trades union for those who are 18 and have earned a high school diploma or GED.
The first project Rouser worked on this summer through the Minnesota Trades Academy was to demolish, remove and repair a concrete sidewalk for a home in Minneapolis.
“The hardest part is lugging the concrete up and moving it into the dumpster,” Rouser said. “The easiest part is using tools to break it up.”
The concrete pouring process involves many steps and Rouser’s teachers speak highly of his attentiveness and stand-out commitment to learning new things.
“He’s a quick learner when it comes to tools he’s never used before, such as a jackhammer,” said site lead Gregg Adler. “He’s also been fast in learning how to use the reciprocating saw to cut under wires.”
For Rouser, learning to use new tools is interesting because he has always enjoyed building and creating things.
“In high school, I took Carpentry I and Carpentry II,” Rouser said. “I built a lamp and when I did it all myself I had a rewarding feeling like, ‘Hey, maybe I can build something else. I want to keep trying to do this.’”
Through the Minnesota Trades Academy, Rouser is gaining a variety of construction experiences that will help in the future, should he decide to pursue a career in construction. He said the concrete pouring process started with making sure the ground was level, then cutting and removing broken concrete from the site, followed by framing the location for pouring the concrete. Throughout the process, he used the math he learned in school.
But Rouser’s experiences with construction were never only about trying something new; rather, Rouser said he feels confident in his work because hands-on learning clicks for him.
“I’m better at measuring now,” Rouser said. “I can do it by myself so I’ve practiced a lot to be good at it.”
The Minnesota Trades Academy internship starts with a full week of safety and equipment review, so students of all backgrounds and skill levels can fully, and safely, participate.
Asked about what advice he would share with other high school students who are trying to figure what to do after high school, Rouser shared the following:
“When you are 18, join the Minnesota Trades Academy and you can get out of the house – do something new and have a rewarding experience that might lead to a career,” Rouser said.
Rouser plans attend Minneapolis Technical College this fall and begin introductory classes for a career in the welding trades.
Interested in a career in construction?
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.