Senator Chuck Wiger: Opportunity Knocks
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Colin Powell
This is the time of year when many people set new goals for themselves. In that spirit, ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s important to you?
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
Thinking about how much of your day is spent at work, you may be ready for a change. You may be looking for a career that feels more meaningful and fulfilling.
Continuing and completing your education – whether it is one class, a degree or certificate – is a great way to change your future. But you must take that next step and apply what you learn. Go for it!
Your dreams are greatly impacted and empowered by hard work and education. We are fortunate–there are many colleges, universities and vocational schools to help us start or re-start our educational journey to accomplish our goals. The schools have excellent staff members who can help you develop a plan.
Enlisting for military service also provides excellent training and career opportunities.
Thousands of area residents are proud alumni of Century College, the most affordable higher education institution in the northeast metropolitan area. Century is a member of Minnesota State, the new name for the former Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.
Century is a great place to start your education. All of my five children, for example, attended Century as part of their educational journey. Century offers a wide variety of degree programs, from business to accounting, marketing, criminal justice or computer science. You also can take general education credits and then transfer to a four-year institution such as the University of Minnesota or St. Thomas University. If you do plan to transfer, it is wise to tell the admissions people at Century that you want to take credits that will be accepted at a four-year institution.
Century also excels at offering skilled labor programming. Skilled labor jobs have recently become much more in demand. In fact, many companies across the state report that there are not enough qualified job applicants for open positions. Century offers degrees in automotive service technology, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, solar and renewable energy, and much more. Century’s website is www.century.edu.
For high school students thinking about their future, there are many other options for education outside traditional two and four-year institutions. For example, the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association offers a rigorous apprenticeship program that includes 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and about 180 hours of related instruction each year. Being a sheet metal worker involves the fabrication, installation, repair and placement of heating and air conditioning systems.
There is also a new and powerful growing partnership between local public schools and the St. Paul Building and Construction Trades. The partnership provides summer jobs for young men and women in all communities. These jobs put men and women – typically high school juniors – into local training centers and lets them explore a variety of trades such as pipe fitting, carpentry, iron working, heat and frost insulating, and more.
Students attend a nine-week training course, which is followed by a meeting with a guidance counselor who discusses career goals. For more information, email Donald Mullin, the executive secretary for the St. Paul Building and Construction Trades at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don is also chair of the White Bear Lake School Board.
High school students also can take advantage of Intermediate School District 916’s excellent Career and Tech Center on the campus of Century College. Students can leave their home high school and attend a 916 program during the day. For example, 916 has an excellent home construction program in which students actually build residential homes under the watchful eye of a highly qualified instructor. Nine such homes have been constructed so far in North St. Paul. They have each sold for $250,000 to $300,000. The student builders have gone on to productive careers.
Visit the websites of area school districts to discover other career and tech program options. The districts’ community education programs are also excellent sources of ideas for furthering your career or increasing your skills. These programs are dedicated to lifelong learning.
Joining the military is other post-high school graduation option. The military is comprised of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Part-time duty includes the Reserves and National Guard branches.
In the military, men and women frequently get the opportunity to travel and receive highly specialized training that can translate into a successful career in the civilian world. Veterans benefits can pay for thousands of college or vocational programs. Visit todaysmilitary.com/joining/types-of-military-service.
There also are many services offered for older workers who want or need a retraining program. The Minnesota Career Pathways websites offer a variety of public programs that can assist older workers: http://www.mncareerpathways.org/pathways/training-programs.html
For those who are unemployed, there are many services dedicated to helping you find new work or retraining. To find the nearest Workforce Center, visit:http://mn.gov/deed/job-seekers/workforce-centers/
I believe you are never too old to find your life’s purpose and have a promising vision of the future.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions regarding any issue. You can visit me at the Capitol in my office in the Senate Building, Room 2219. Or, you can let me know if you would like me to stop by your home or apartment. I can be reached by email email@example.com and by phone at 651-296-6820. My cell is 651-770-0283.