Meet Emilio De Los Santos
Emilio De Los Santos, 20, from Eagle Pass, TX, graduated from Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center – Houston campus (TWSTC) on August 14, 2015. Emilio was part of the second class to graduate from the Welding Specialist program at the new Houston campus.
Congratulations on your graduation Emilio; what made you choose welding as a career?
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I was always interested in welding, but I never did it because there was always other stuff I wanted to do. When I graduated high school, I was kind of lost; I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. I was trying to figure out what I’d be good at; I knew I was a blue-collar kind of guy. So I moved to Houston; I was going to work in the oil fields with some friends from high school until I figured it out.
I got to talking with my godfather; he’s a welder here in Houston. He told me I should try it because it’s a good career; when he told me the type of money you can make I got really motivated. He said “Maybe it’s for you, maybe it’s not, but you won’t know if you don’t try.” So I enrolled at another welding school here in Houston, but it didn’t really work out for me; it felt like I was on my own. But the 12 weeks I spent there showed me that I liked welding, just not the school.
How did you find yourself at TWSTC?
The funny thing was when I graduated high school in June 2014, I actually wanted to go to the Tulsa Welding School in Oklahoma, but it was too far for me; I wasn’t financially ready to go over there on my own. I was disappointed because I really wanted to go to this school.
When I moved to Houston last summer, this campus wasn’t open; I didn’t know about it. After I’d left the other school, I started seeing commercials for Tulsa Welding School here. I was like “oh my god, this is meant for me!” I’d always wanted to go to TWS because it’s one of the best welding schools there is, and here it was opening up in Houston! It was a big sign for me.
What was your favorite part of the Welding Specialist program?
I liked all of it, but I would say my favorite part was the last few weeks. You have to take four tests and if you don’t pass them you can’t graduate. I think that was my favorite part; it was the challenge. It was about not giving up and getting it done.
You graduated just days ago, have you got a job lined up yet?
The school had a couple of companies swing by. There are a couple of companies I’m looking forward to weld testing for next week. Houston is very big right now for all kinds of welding!
So you’re pretty confident that it’s not going to take you long to find something?
Yep, I’m pretty confident. My problem is I don’t have a car, so without transportation it’s kind of hard. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
What will you do with your first paycheck?
That’s a hard question; one of the first things I’d do is start paying back the school. I’m pretty sure it’ll be a good check, so hopefully I’ll have extra money to put a down payment on a car.
If you could pick and choose what would be your dream job?
My dream job honestly would be as a TIG welder working offshore. MIG and Flux Core are my favorite, but TIG is something I’d like to get into and practice; it’s kind of hard to do.
Where do you hope to be in three years?
I’d like to be a TIG welder here in Houston, or like I said, working offshore. But there’s also a lot of places I’d like to go; as I’m single, no kids, I want to travel as much as I can, doing different types of welding around the world.
Do you feel you’re on your way to becoming a specialist?
I’ve got a ways to go, but I’ve come a long way. I’ve learned so much that I never thought I’d be able to. It’s pretty amazing. Tulsa has given me a good start. Out there in the real world it’s different, you know, but I’ve learned so much so that I know when I start my job, I know I’m not going to be lost. Welding is a very hard job, and it takes years to perfect it.
What’s your favorite aspect of the welding trade?
Once I drop the hood I’m in my own world. It’s just me focusing on getting the job done right; making sure the weld looks good, that it’s going pass the bend test or the x-ray test. I get in my own zone and forget about the world.
Have you made some lasting connections at the school?
I made a lot of great friends. The guys in my class are awesome people; we’ve hung out and we’re all trying to see what companies we could work for, helping each other out finding work. The instructors are awesome as well. I’ve become good friends with them too. They’re all great guys; they’re really trying to help us out. The cool thing about them is they all know the struggle; they have a past, they understand and want the best for us. They really tried to get us on point, to help us get a job as soon as we leave.
What advice do you have for new students just starting out?
Don’t think about how many months you’ve got to go, and don’t be afraid to try. When I started I was thinking that this is going to be a long seven months, I’ve got so much stuff to learn. But I put in the hard work and it turned out to be pretty great. At first you may be kind of lost – I was – but once you get it, honestly it’s like riding a bicycle, it becomes natural. Don’t judge it, just do it. Spend as much time as you can in the booth and just weld.
When I started I was most afraid of the book work; I’m not great at that, I’m more of a hands-on person. But you know it didn’t turn out to be that bad because I was interested in it. I actually wanted to read it and learn about it. The more knowledge you get, the more it all makes sense. That was pretty cool.
What do you do for fun?
Right now I don’t have much time because of school. Pretty much I just work out and watch movies. I like to hang out and talk with my uncle, who is also my godfather, and get advice from him; he’s actually a TIG welder so I try to spend time with him on the weekends and get as much advice as I can.
If you were a millionaire for a day, what would you do?
Honestly I’d start my own big welding business. That would be the first thing I’d do; I’d like to help people out, give them jobs.
Let’s finish with some quick fire questions?
- Football or baseball? Football.
- Ford or Chevy? Chevy.
- Pizza or wings? Pizza.
- Win the lottery or find a perfect job? That’s a good one. I don’t know…I think I’d go with the perfect job.
If you’re a TWS graduate and would like to share your success and be an inspiration to others, please email Social@StrataTech.com to be considered for a Graduate Connection interview, please include details such as your graduation date (month/year), program and campus name (Tulsa/Jacksonville/Houston).