Deciding what you want to do after high school is a tough decision, possibly one of the toughest (and most important) that a young man or woman in high school has to make. Faced with the burden of impending student loans, the desire to expand their horizons, the uncertainty of whether or not they’ll find a job and the anticipation of adulthood, every year high school students choose a path, and many take a leap into postsecondary education.
Unfortunately for the trade industries, not enough kids are choosing the career path of an electrician, plumber, lineman or HVAC/R technician when they go to college, and the impending labor shortage has become a well-known issue. The good news is that trade professionals, tech schools, trade organizations and companies like DSG are developing programs to support students who realize how great a career in the trades can be.
In 2009, DSG introduced its Education Connection Fund to provide scholarships to high school and college students who want to train for a career in the trades. Since its inception, the fund has provided nearly $50,000 in scholarships. We checked in with a couple of past winners to see what they were up to, and here are a few of their stories.
Mark Wibe learned the benefits of a trade career early on. His father, Gary, owns Wibe Electric & Communication in his hometown of Rollete, ND, and he often helped his father out as a young man. “Even at a young age, I realized that this line of work was a great way to help people,” says Wibe. “Being there to provide them with their electricity and in some cases save the day for them was something that really appealed to me. It’s not always easy work, but it is rewarding.”
Wibe used his Education Connection Fund scholarship to attend Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead, MN, and is currently working as an apprentice for Laughlin Electric in Fargo, ND. “The scholarship meant a lot to me,” says Wibe. “School can be so expensive, especially when you have to pay for it yourself, so scholarship opportunities like these are really important.”
In the next five to 10 years, Wibe sees himself getting his journeyman’s license and then becoming a master electrician. He’s already looking forward to bringing some new ideas to the electrical industry. “I think that PLCs could make a move into more residential projects,” says Wibe. “They’re mostly used in commercial jobs, but I could see how they could be used in homes to work with advanced electronic systems.”
2014 & 2015 Recipient
Bryton Ciesynski is from Gwinner, ND. For those who aren’t familiar with Gwinner, it’s the home of the inventor of the Bobcat, Cyril Keller, who just so happens to also be Ciesynski’s great-grandfather. Just like his great-grandfather, Ciesynski has an entrepreneurial spirit. “I’d like to maybe own my own business one day,” he says. “I saw the trades as a great place to do that.”
Ciesynski used his Education Connection Fund scholarships to attend North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, ND, from which he plans to graduate this fall. He is also apprenticing at Grotberg Electric, where his dad also works as an electrician. “I always wanted to be an electrician,” says Ciesynski. “The scholarships from DSG helped me to pay for my schooling so I could be that much closer to having a job where I get to do what I like to do.”
In the future, Ciesynski plans to work toward his journeyman’s license and hopes to one day run his own crew and then eventually even own his own electrical contracting company. “This line of work is just so much fun for me,” says Ciesynski. “You get to see a lot of different things, learn how things work, and I don’t have to wear a suit and tie. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”
Hunter Vezina didn’t always aspire to be an electrician. His isights were initially set on an electrical engineering degree and a job designing advanced electrical systems. But after two years at a four-year college, he realized that it wasn’t the best fit for him. “I didn’t want to be stuck at a desk in a classroom,” Vezina says. “I wanted to be in a lab doing hands-on learning. That’s what I love best about being an electrician – I’m never in the same place. I get to go somewhere new every day.”
Consequently, Vezina changed direction and enrolled at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, WI. At the same time, he went to work as an apprentice for his father, Rod, at Gauge Electric in Almond, WI. Thanks to a DSG Education Connection Fund scholarship, that transition wasn’t as hard. “Getting the scholarship from DSG was pretty awesome,” says Vezina. “Technical school is a lot cheaper than a four-year university, but there aren’t as many loan programs available. Opportunities like the DSG scholarship are important because they let you focus more on school and less on how you’re going to pay for it.”
Vezina will wrap up his schooling in December of 2017, earning his journeyman’s license. He plans to continue to partner with his dad, and one day, take over the reins of Gauge Electric himself.
To make a donation or to find out more about the DSG Education Connection Fund, visit www.findingmytrade.com.