The Mentorship Academy’s male class held its first career site visits this past week. Pittsburgh’s Steamfitters Local 449 and Iron Workers Local 3 were exceptional hosts for the day’s two sessions. Thanks to these hosts, our young adults enjoyed eye-opening experiences that will impact how they think about their career paths.
At the morning session, Tom and Mike from the Steamfitters spoke to the class about the different variations of career paths working in this wide-ranging building trade. Steamfitters do everything from welding and threading pipe to HVAC and power plant turbine installations. If it involves heating or cooling, a steamfitter is a go-to skill required to get the job built or maintained.
Students asked Tom and Mike a range of questions about pay, the training required to become certified, how jobs are scheduled, and the impressive suite of benefits that include healthcare, pension, and 401k. The class next went to the state-of-the-art training floor Local 441 built in Harmony, Pa., to do some hands-on welding under the supervision of Mike and team.
Following their introduction to welding, the class heard from Paul and Rick of Iron Workers Local 3 during a quick lunch in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Anytime you see a construction crane, structural steel being erected, or the long cables of steel rebar being set for a big concrete pour, rest assured the iron workers are getting it done. If I had to describe the culture of Iron Workers Local 3 in one word, it would be ‘proud.’
Similar to the morning session, Paul and Rick fielded a flurry of questions from the class regarding a career in iron working. The class was escorted through different instructional stations where they learned about rigging, cranes, tying rebar, and scaling steel beams (we even had a student who made it to the top of the steel beam at the training station and rang the bell).
The day concluded with a pair of talks by Taili and Eric, special Academy guest speakers. Taili spoke about his life journey: from a basketball star and student leader at Pittsburgh’s Perry High, to incarcerated in federal prison for years, to a returning citizen living a productive and fulfilling life. His message hit home to the class: think carefully about what you choose as your identity/association in life and when circumstances change, make sure you refine that identity/association in positive ways. Listening to Taili had me thinking about ways to get his impactful message broadcast far beyond the Mentorship Academy classes.
We wrapped the day with an exercise by Eric where the students thought about the core attributes they want people in their lives to associate with them. And how those attributes could craft a life mission. Food for thought that will hopefully stay with the young adults through the year and beyond.
Key takeaways from this long but productive day: careers that pay family-sustaining wages get young adults’ attention and hand-on experiences (welding, scaling beams, tying rebar) excite. Dynamic site visits, such as today’s, are what the Mentorship Academy is all about. We look forward to continuing to showcase rewarding careers and exciting students for their bright future.