Avery, 20 from Overland Park, KS, graduated the Professional Welder program at Tulsa Welding School in June 2018. Avery moved to Tulsa just a month or two after high school. He moved back home to Kansas after graduating welding school.
Thanks for sharing your story, Avery. Did you do any welding in high school?
Yes, that’s how I got started. I started welding in my junior year. Actually, it was kind of a fluke. I was supposed to be in the auto program, but they had too many kids. They put me in welding class instead. It really kind of clicked once I started welding. I realized I really enjoyed it.
That was fortunate! When did you decide to go to Tulsa Welding School?
We had a TWS representative come visit our high school. He explained the different campuses and programs. It just seemed like the premier welding school. That’s when I made my decision. I still looked at other options, but Tulsa seemed like the best place to go.
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Did you think about any other trades?
I was definitely looking into some sort of trade school. That was going to be the best option for me, rather than going through all those classes at a four-year college. I’m more of a hands-on guy than a book guy.
At first, I wanted to work with cars. I really like cars, but I ended up thinking of cars as more of a hobby and welding as my career.
What did you enjoy most at Tulsa Welding School?
The people I got to meet there. A lot of the kids were like me and similar-minded. That was probably the best part about it. I really liked the instructors, too. You could talk to them like your peers. They were just really good and interesting people to know. It was different from the relationships I had with my high school teachers. The time in the lab was fantastic, and the classroom days were good.
So you graduated at 19. Talk to me about getting your first job.
I went through a bunch of temp services near home in Kansas, just getting my name out there to see what was going on nearby. I knew I had a spot at home and could save a little money. I found a job with American Dish Service. They make industrial dish washers. I’ve been with them for about three months. I started with a temp agency. I have another 15 days, then I’ll be signed on permanently.
What kind of welding are you doing?
It’s stainless TIG. I really like it. It’s cleaner, and that’s probably my favorite part about it. I’m actually doing a lot of fusion welding, where there’s no filler rod necessary, not to get too technical. It’s been challenging at times, but I have really good peers. They’ve been good teachers. I like the people there.
Did you work during high school?
I wasn’t a very good student in high school, so I tried to stay as focused on school as I could. So I didn’t really have a job for most of high school. I did work as a food runner for a little while, but that was it.
So getting your first welding paycheck was exciting?
It was definitely nice!
Did you do anything exciting with your check?
Funny you should ask! I bought a car. I wasn’t expecting to, but my transmission went out on my old car.
What’s your career plan from here Avery?
I started working a TIG job because I feel it gives me a higher ceiling. It’s a process I really enjoy. Working on dishwashers is cool, but I don’t see myself doing it forever. I don’t see a lot of opportunity to progress in this company, so I’m definitely looking to the future. For the time-being, I’m okay. It’s too early in my career to do anything right now. I need to put in the time and build my experience to have something to offer the next company. I can always make money welding on the side. I plan to do that.
Do you have your own welding machine?
I’m going to save up and get one. TIG machines are a little more expensive, so I’m trying to make the best decision there. That’s definitely what I’m saving up for right now.
What kind of stuff would you make?
Industrial furniture, signs, pretty much anything out of metal.
Do you have any interest in traveling welding—moving place to place, job to job?
I’ve thought about it, but I’m not sure if I will do that or not. I do like to be in one place, but obviously I’m open to it down the road.
What do you enjoy most about your new trade?
It’s pretty funny to me that everyone seems to know a welder. Whenever I tell someone I’m a welder, it seems they say that every time. What I enjoy most is that it’s kind of hard work. I’m pushing myself every day, but I’m doing what I really love to do.
Did you make some lasting friendships at school?
I’ve stayed in touch with several guys.
What advice would you give to people considering Tulsa Welding School?
That’s tough. I’d say, stay patient. Stay there for as long as you can each day, and keep on going. There were occasions where I’d stay after school. I’d be in the lab for extra hours welding, doing what I needed to do. There were some kids I’d see staying late every single day. I realized that there are some people who stay in school all day. Obviously you don’t have to do that, but do your best. Put in the time and you’ll succeed. If you put in the time, you’ll most likely come out a good welder. Don’t be afraid to ask your instructors anything!
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).