Imagine being a high school student with a job and a career already lined up.
10 students graduated Friday from the “Construction Pre-Apprenticeship” program at Southeast Tech and every single one of them has a bright future.
Helen Telahun wants to be a pioneer in the construction field, but being a young woman in a trade dominated by older men, she knew it wouldn’t be easy.
“You go in there are you see like all these tall, large men and you’re just really intimidated, but they make the transition so easy for me and it was so sweet of them. They were only respectful toward me, they were never rude,” said Pre-Apprentice Program graduate Helen Telahun.
This is the project Telahun actually worked on, cutting tiles for Henry Carlson Construction at the newly renovated recital hall at Augustana University. Her supervisor, Dean Parisien says she kept pace with more experienced carpenters and exceeded his expectations.
“You’d assign her a task. When she got done with it, she’d ask me what do I do next, what would you like me to do? That in itself is huge because it doesn’t happen all the time,” said Henry Carlson Construction foreman Dean Parisien.
Parisien says he’d like to hire six people just like these students. Telahun says the summer job helped her confirm that she’s found her calling in life.
“I want to run a company that designs and build houses and having this opportunity really helped me secure what I want to do with my life,” said Telahun.
The future of the program sponsored by the Associated General Contractors of South Dakota, is just as bright.
“I just happened to have a board meeting this week and the only criticism I had was why aren’t we doing it in Rapid City, Watertown and Mitchell? So we will be looking to expand it to those areas as well because this program has been a huge success for our industry,” said Bryce Healy with the Associated General Contractors of South Dakota.
The goal is to more than double the size of the pre-apprenticeship class next year.