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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.

Tisdale wears his Minnesota Trades Academy internship gear. MTA helps students like Tisdale explore careers in construction and pays them to learn trades skills. PC: Emily Sweeney

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 the Minnesota Trades Academy (MTA), an 8-week summer internship program where students are paid to learn skills that are used by real-life workers in Minnesota’s construction industry.

“My favorite video games are role playing games like UFC Mortal Combat and Life of Strange, but I also do a lot of writing and have considered creating comic books so sometimes I read the dictionary just to learn something new,” Tisdale said. “As I go into my senior year, I’m exploring all my options after I graduate from high school, whether that’s through athletics, college, technical school or the trades.”

Learning New Construction Skills Fuels Tisdale’s Creative Mind

As his junior year came to a close, Tisdale reached out to Jackie Hayden, college and career coordinator at Brooklyn Center High School about summer job and internship opportunities.

“She told me I had perfect timing and she sent me an information sheet about the Minnesota Trades Academy,” Tisdale said. “I thought a summer internship where I got paid to learn something new sounded cool; I had never done anything like this before.”

The Minnesota Trades Academy serves students ages 16 to 20 years old, who primarily live in the Twin Cities metro area – exposing them to apprenticeship opportunities in Minnesota’s construction industry. The program is offered by the Construction Careers Foundation, a Minneapolis-St. Paul nonprofit effort supported by trade unions, construction companies, a growing list of Minnesota school districts, and the State of Minnesota (DEED). The mission of the Construction Careers Foundation is to create pathways for Minnesota’s young people to learn about, and connect with, registered apprenticeship opportunities offered by Minnesota’s construction trade unions.

Tisdale took the information home to his mom who at first was skeptical about what the program entailed.

“It’s 20-30 hours a week and she was concerned about the safety of it all – like is it full-blown construction labor work all summer,” Tisdale said. “But she supported me and ironically the first week of our training we earned OSHA 10 safety certifications, so that’s when she trusted that this opportunity was well-rounded and prepared me with the knowledge and skills, I need to be safe on the jobsite.”

Tisdale added that all his mom wants for him at the end of the day is to have a great future. She always tells him the sky’s the limit.

“The intent of the Minnesota Trades Academy is to expose young people, like Joseph, to the real world of Minnesota’s construction industry,” said Mary Stuart, associate director of the Construction Careers Foundation. “And in the real world, that starts with safety.”

“We hope that by giving students hands-on experience, they will be inspired to explore a career within Minnesota’s construction trades when they’re eligible to apply,” Stuart added.

With more Research, Careers in Construction Click

Since starting the MTA internship, Tisdale’s favorite project was building birdhouses.

“It’s very underrated the amount of precise measuring and craftsmanship that goes into building a birdhouse,” Tisdale said. “I know I can use the skills I am learning around the house too, especially when it comes to planning, measuring and reading blueprints to put things together.”

Reflecting on his talents and interests, Tisdale recognized that hands-on work may be his preferred learning style.

“I’ve always been handy around the house, helping hang curtains and fix the washing machine,” Tisdale said. “I’m pretty good at seeing something and breaking down how it works. I also consider myself tech-savvy. At church, I help with cameras and audio production.”

Tisdale’s creativity and problem-solving nature led him to design and assemble his own bed frame from plywood. He’s also built his own computer.

“I have built things just because I can dream them up, then I just see if I can really do it,” Tisdale said. “I built my bed frame and it’s because I thought, ‘Why spend the money on it, let me recycle this wood and do it myself.’”

Prior to joining MTA, Tisdale did not consider a career in construction.

“Now it’s really something to think about,” Tisdale said. “I have more to learn about the unions but so far demolition work sounds the coolest to me.”

For more information on the Minnesota Trades Academy visit the Program page on To read more Rock-Solid Success Stories about other young people who are exploring careers in construction, click here.