National Apprenticeship Week is a time to celebrate the remarkable opportunities that apprenticeships provide. It’s a time to honor the experts who are currently immersed in their apprenticeships, learning, and growing in their respective fields across the industry. We are excited to share with you the history of our apprenticeship program as we bring you firsthand insights from some of our current apprentices.
JP Cullen’s apprenticeship program in the Midwest has flourished over the years, currently accommodating over 95 apprentices, including over 7 youth apprentices, and introducing young talents to a promising career in the trades. These apprentices spread across the Midwest, represent various trades, including laborers, carpenters, concrete finishers, masons, ironworkers, operators, and millwrights.
We asked our apprentices what inspired them to choose a career path in the trades and here are their stories:
- Nikki Miller’s, Carpenter Apprentice, journey into the trades was driven by a passion for hands-on work and a family history in the industry. She shared, “I’ve always been someone who likes to work with my hands. I chose an apprenticeship because I know there’s so much to learn in this field, and going through the apprenticeship would give me the opportunity to learn as much as possible.”
- Tyler Kersten’s, Laborer Apprentice, experience reflects the seamless transition from youth apprenticeship to a full-time career. He said, “What inspired me to be an apprentice was the apprenticeship program that my high school offered. I was a youth apprentice for JP Cullen in my senior year of high school. When I graduated, JP Cullen hired me right out of high school full time.”
- Travis Wilson, an Operator Apprentice, was inspired from a young age by his upbringing in a construction-oriented family. He shared, “Being a 3rd generation here at Cullen I grew up around the construction field. I always enjoyed visiting all the different job sites. I knew going to college was not for me and always loved working with my hands.”
This apprenticeship program presents a wealth of opportunities and benefits, including on-the-job training, access to a nationally awarded safety program, and the unique chance to explore careers in construction and witness projects come to life.
What is something that our apprentices love about their jobs?
- “I love starting a project and slowly seeing the end result come together.” – Nikki Miller, Carpenter Apprentice.
- “My favorite thing in my career so far is meeting new people and learning new things.” – Tyler Kersten, Laborer Apprentice
- “My favorite part of my career is the people that I work with. I am super grateful to have been placed with tremendous mentors and teachers who have taught me this trade.” – Cade Badertscher, Mason Apprentice.
- “I’m constantly learning new things every day. New challenges and obstacles present themselves daily, and it’s my job to understand them and solve them.” – Elisa Shapson
Unlike traditional college paths, apprentices start earning money right after graduation, allowing them to avoid building student loans. Furthermore, experienced construction workers often earn competitive salaries, sometimes even surpassing the incomes of new college graduates. Completing an apprenticeship can also earn credit toward an associate degree at select junior colleges in Wisconsin, creating a pathway for further educational advancement.
Thinking about starting a career in the trades? Here are some words of advice from our current apprentices:
- “The people you work with are there to help you learn the trade. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions.” – Kaden Grieser, Finisher Apprentice.
- “ My advice would be to stay patient. It can be frustrating in the beginning because everyone around you is talking about aspects of the trade, and it can be confusing. But the more you show up and work hard, you catch on quicker.” – Cade Badertscher, Mason Apprentice.
- “Take your time and research what trade you’re interested in and take advantage of career fairs, there are a lot of people you can reach out to for questions that will gladly help you make your decision.” – Nikki Miller, Carpenter Apprentice.
- “My best advice is if you are thinking about joining an apprenticeship but you’re just not sure which one to join the laborers. In the laborers you will do all kinds of different things like helping a bunch of different trades and getting a taste of everything.” – Travis Wilson, Operator Apprentice.
- “This is a career that pays YOU to learn, rather than the other way around. It doesn’t get much better than that. Plus, the things you learn in your apprenticeship can be directly applied to your life outside of work.” – Elisa Shapson, Carpenter Apprentice.
With dedication, hands-on learning, and a commitment to personal growth, individuals can shape a promising future in the construction industry while building the infrastructure of tomorrow. This week, let’s celebrate the apprentices and the programs that support their dreams and aspirations, ensuring a brighter future for our workforce and communities.
Interested in starting your career as a tradesman with JP Cullen? Check out our openings: Careers | JP Cullen