Boot Camps: The Student View – Part One

Female CNC boot camp participant on machine

Manufacturing boot camps have become a staple at Moraine Park over the last four years and continue to keep going strong.  Throughout those four years, we’ve promoted our Manufacturing Skills Academies for their job placement rates and life-changing stories – and we’ll continue to do so. But there’s more to it than that.

There’s more to boot camps than the story we tell from our side. We set up the boot camps and work with business partners to create opportunities, but we don’t always know why those connections work for some and not for others. We see the requirements and pace of the program, but we don’t truly feel the impact of three intense months and what it takes to get through.

So for Fall welding and CNC boot camps, we’re trying something new – we’re looking at it from the student side. Welcome to the first installment of Boot Camps: The Student View. All the quotes below are in response to questions asked of the current, Fall 2016 CNC boot camp students.

Why do people come to boot camps? Is it the job placement rates? The quick turnaround? A new path? It turns out, it’s a little bit of all those things:

“I was interested in a trade career because I knew the schooling would be shorter and I would be able to get the schooling done quickly, get a job, and be back to enjoying time with my family more quickly. I had initially thought I would need to spend 1-2 years in school to get a degree that would lead to a decent career, but after talking to the front desk women and MPTC in Beaver Dam I learned about the boot camp programs and decided it was the right choice.”

“I decided to invest in my career after all these years’ just working jobs.”

“I heard about the boot camp by reading a poster in my probation officer’s office. I came because I am genuinely interested in CNC machining. I met a guy in jail who is a mechanical engineer and he jumpstarted my interest in furthering my education and finally having a career to be proud of as well as knowing I managed to overcome adversities and challenges.” 

“I worked very hard to be here. I needed a career path and had machine operation skills prior to CNC program boot camp. I walked into the Job Center of Fond du Lac, and Kim Retlich answered the questions that I had so I signed up.”

Asking people to talk about surprises is risky business – there are, after all, bad surprises too – but we want to see the whole picture. We must say, we were pleasantly surprised by what surprised them:

“The biggest surprise has been realizing how many opportunities can become available just by finishing this 15-week course. There’s the opportunity of pursuing more schooling or working my way up through the career field by learning more on the job.”

“I come from a four-year campus background. The biggest and most welcomed surprise was how comfortable the learning environment was. “

“How helpful the teachers are.”

“My biggest surprise so far has been how helpful and team-oriented everyone in the group is. We all have each other’s backs and strive to succeed, led by our very capable instructor, Jim Gyorfy.” 

“The amount of information that is being processed.”

“The biggest surprise is after the first three days, we were already programming and working with the machines.” 

So what’s in it for boot campers? This is only the beginning of the CNC boot camp – classes started the first week of September, and internships begin on Thursday – but in order to commit to boot camps, the best plan is to have a goal.

“I hope to finish this schooling and still have the drive to keep taking my career further throughout the years.’

“I hope to excel in every class and come out confident and capable in CNC machining.”

“A new career.”

“I hope to gain a working knowledge of CNC Programming and Operation, getting a job in the field, and starting the CNC Programming Associate’s Degree Program.” 

“To obtain a certification in CNC Programming. Also being better with machines in the manufacturing field.”

“What I plan to accomplish by the end is to have a job and learn the basics to CNC.” 

Part of the plan is knowing that boot camps aren’t easy – they’re definitely worth it, but the time is intense. What are some of the challenges for the CNC boot camp students?

“Math has always been one of my more difficult subjects and CNC is all about math. I pretty much put everything else in my life on hold to focus on school. I put work aside until December, I spend significantly less time with friends, and my son stays at his grandma’s during the week so I can focus on schoolwork at night and get enough sleep.”

“A lot of information comes at you fast, but everything is very hand on so the things we learn are put to use right away.”

“The challenge for me as a working, single parent, is just staying awake. I’ve changed as many life patterns as I could to maximize the four hours of time I have per day to sleep and get everything else accomplished.” 

“Being overwhelmed obtaining so much information, but our team members are also helping one another. I guess that’s how we overcome this adventure together. “

“The most challenging part is the amount of information that is given. What is supposed to given in a week is given in one or two days.” 

Finally, we want to know what they would want you to know. This is the question we’ll ask for every installment, hoping that anyone reading sees that even when boot camp is hard, there are life-changing benefits ahead.

“It has been said nothing worth having in life will be easy and this is just the same. Our instructor is constantly stressing to us that “it’s boot camp – it won’t be easy, but it’s only three months.” It’s something that will take effort, but if you have the support and use the resources that are offered to you, the payoff will be amazing, and you meet some pretty great people along the way.”

“I want people to know how great of an opportunity this is.  It’s practice, skill-based learning that’s been interesting and enjoyable!”

“That you can do anything you put your mind to.”

“I want people to know that this program is not to be taken lightly. It’s intense, informative, and leaves your brain a mushy, pulpy mess. However, the knowledge to be gained is worth every bit of struggle, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” 

Find out more information about our CNC and Welding boot camps, by visiting or call Kim at 920-924-3334.

Written by Samantha Story