Each year at graduation time, families celebrate their kids heading off to college, joining the military or even for taking a “gap year,” but it’s not quite as often that a graduate is celebrated for joining the workforce.
“I knew since I was younger that I always wanted to get into the trades,” said 17-year-old Joe Lynch. Now, he is. Just days before receiving his diploma, the 2021 Horlick High School graduate officially signed with Findorff Construction as an apprentice carpenter. His first job — the new RUSD Aquatic Center. In fact, he’s been on the job site for months.
“I already know the ropes,” Lynch said.
“He’s shown some great progress and we really look forward to having him,” said Mike Novak, project superintendent for Findorff. “I think he’s going to have a great career ahead of him.”
Mike served as Lynch’s mentor during his time as a youth apprentice for Findorff. Lynch started the apprenticeship his senior year, but his preparation for the job began years earlier.
“My sophomore year I went into the construction pathway,” Lynch said. “Once you get into it and are focused on what you want to do for the rest of your life, it’s cool. Over a couple years they started offering more opportunities to learn so I took advantage of those.”
Experience paying off
Now those opportunities he chose to explore are paying off. Not only has he landed a job, he has no student loan debt and is already making a good wage. At his signing ceremony, Lynch’s dad joked it wouldn’t be long before his son would be making more than him. If you’re wondering how much, Novak said Lynch could easily pull in six figures.
The Academies of Racine boast they’re all about “My choice. My future” and it appears Lynch will have a great one.
“We didn’t do anything like this when I was going to school,” Novak said. “I had no idea. I stumbled into the trades and it’s been a good career for me.”
Lynch is expecting the same. He said he already has a sense of pride driving by the aquatic center and telling friends he’s helping build it. And who knows what next? Findorff has high rises, hospitals and even schools in the works.
Construction isn’t the only pathway students can choose at the Academies of Racine — Horlick, Case and Park. Options range from computer science to health sciences and automotive technology to aviation.
Each offers a glimpse at the possible careers students can have post-high school and the money they stand to earn in them. Plus, the students get real-world learning experiences by linking schoolwork and the workplace through guest speakers, youth apprenticeships, site visits and community partnerships.