Cole Strassman is going to be a welder. In fact, it seems he already is, and probably what he would have been if he had never met us. The beauty of the boot camps is that it can take you where you want to go, even if you’re already on your way.

“My dad’s a welder. My grandpa’s a welder. My uncle’s a welder. They all talked me into being a welder too, when I found a job that paid well. I started to get the hang of it and I really started to get into it. I really liked it and I thought, “Yeah, I can do this. I like this.” Strassman worked eight months as a welder, and while he did, he met others who had come through the boot camp program. When the company he was working laid him off, he went looking for more as a welder. “After I got laid off, I remembered these four guys mentioning the boot camp to me, how it had helped them find a career and helped them get in somewhere. I thought, okay, if I really want a jump start back into welding, I should just do the boot camp because it works on educating you, getting at least a certificate, and getting you a job at the same time which was definitely what I needed.  I worked as a welder for eight months, but a lot of places around here are looking for the whole year of experience or even up to three years of experience and I didn’t quite have that so I put in applications but I wouldn’t hear anything back.”

Strassman laid out the process that went into determining his next steps. “I signed up for the technical diploma but then started thinking about it long term, I needed a job fast. I figured I should wait on the year-long course. I could do the boot camp first, to get me into a job , and once I was set with that, then I could go back and go to school. I’m looking to see which companies have educational reimbursement so I can come back for the technical diploma and it will all be paid for.”

But the timing of Strassman’s decision put him under more pressure than most. Normally, Test Drives and testing sessions are held weeks before interviews are scheduled to give applicants time to get everything done – Strassman had a day. “I called to ask about the boot camps and you said, ‘The last chance to test is at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning and bring a resume, or else you can wait until fall.’ I was like, tomorrow at eight it is, I guess. Literally, I had a day to start putting everything together. I was thinking that if I’m serious about this, I’ve got to buckle down, I’ve got to do it, and I’ve got to make sure it gets done because I can’t even procrastinate a little bit or I’ll miss my opportunity, and I just don’t want to miss it.”

He didn’t miss it. Within a week, he was interviewing for his internship, where he connected with Amerequip. “I really love how clean their shop is.  For sure, that blew me away.  The shop is immaculate.  The way they got their ventilation system set up.  You’re on this table and you’ve got double vents right there in front of you taking away all the harmful gases and stuff like that so it’s just really clean and I really like that.  All the tables are adjustable too, so if I’m welding on something I can just be sitting down, I can lower the table and just do my thing.”

And his thing is welding. What’s his favorite thing about his internship? “They let me sit in the booth by myself and weld all day and they check up on me every so often to see how I’m doing.” What his favorite thing about the boot camp? “I guess just sitting down in a booth and just welding all day.  That’s probably my favorite part.” So welding is his forever? “Yeah, I’m in it for the long haul.”

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And what does that long haul look like? “First things first.  I just want to get through this program, get into a place, work there for a little while.  I want to come back and I want to do the tech diploma and then I want to even come back further after that and keep getting my degrees.  Actually, I think Andy (Welding Boot Camp Instructor) said there’s welding engineering or something like that, so I could go for that too.  I just want to work my way up to get my CWI, kind of like what he’s got.” With all the focus on continuing to learn, we just had to know if Strassman would be on the other side of the classroom – will he teach? “I made a bet with Andy because he was doing a little project in his booth and I was like ‘Man, I want to do something like that!’ and he said, ‘Well, get your own class then’. So, I was like, alright, bet!’”

Something tells us, we haven’t seen the last of Cole Strassman.

Learn more at morainepark.edu.

Written by Samantha Story