Touring M&L Electrical with her classmates Friday, Madison Carlisle wanted to learn more about her options after she graduates from Bowling Green High School this spring.
Carlisle, who enjoys working with her hands, has her heart set on welding.
“I already have a certification under my belt. I just want to weld,” she said.
Carlisle was among a group of two dozen BGHS seniors shadowing at the company for the day as part of a partnership between M&L Electrical, Junior Achievement of South Central Kentucky and the high school.
Throughout the morning, students broke out into groups to learn about interviewing tips, resume help and M&L Electrical’s apprenticeship program, which allows participants to work full time at the company and learn both on the job and through weekly classes.
“When they leave here today, they should have a very good understanding of what the company offers and what’s out there,” said Abby Phillips, director of education at Junior Achievement.
Toward the end of their visit, employees demonstrated various pieces of equipment. Among them was Nick Miller, a fire alarm inspector.
Miller describes getting into fire and security work “strictly by accident” when he used to work on friends’ car stereos in high school and college. His knowledge of electrical circuitry later led him to work with security systems.
“It’s been a great career,” Miller said. “It’s always changing, you know, because it has to do with technology. You’re always doing something new. It doesn’t get stale or stagnant. … It keeps you fresh all the time. It’s definitely a good career to get into.”
For those interested in the trades, Miller recommends starting with formal vocational education first, rather than working your way up like he did.
“Definitely get the education first,” he said.
Welders, HVAC technicians, plumbers and electricians are certainly in demand, according to Rachel Smith, communications administrator with M&L Electrical.
“We feel like it’s important that we show the alternative pathways available,” Smith said, adding that four-year liberal arts colleges aren’t the right path for every high school graduate.
Through the apprenticeship program, which Smith said is nationally certified, participants can take their electrician test after four years of training. The company looks for applicants with a good attitude who are dedicated and determined. The technical training follows, she said.
“If you have those qualities, we’ll teach you what you need to know,” she said.
An apprenticeship program might just be what BGHS senior Javon Martin is looking for post-graduation. He wants to start earning a living right away, he said.
“I don’t really think college is for me,” he said, adding it’s a lot to commit to at a young age. “I just feel like a program like this is the way for a guy like me.”
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.