MARYSVILLE — William Yetter, 16, stood in a row of five Marysville Pilchuck High School students hammering nails into a long piece of wood.
The teen wore a hardhat and an orange safety vest. A rolled up sheet of green paper stuck out of the back pocket of his jeans. It was a flier with career information for Snohomish County PUD. After high school, Yetter wants to work toward being a mechanic in the U.S. Air Force, he said, but it’s good to have other options.
Cameron Gray, 17, enjoyed the construction work, with hammers, nails and power drills. But after listening to another presentation at Thursday’s Trade Up, a hands-on career introduction event for high school students, he was thinking he might like to be an electrician.
About 75 Marysville high school students spent the day learning about skilled trades at Marysville Pilchuck.
Across a parking lot filled with equipment, vehicles and presenters, Alextan Roodzant, 18, climbed down from the cab of a backhoe.
The Marysville Getchell senior has seen backhoes at work plenty of times because a family friend does construction. She’d never operated one, though. She didn’t realize how many controls there were, and how much know-how it takes to make the big yellow machine bite into the dirt, lift, turn and release.
“A lot of us want to pursue engineering or construction careers,” Roodzant said. “This is a great opportunity.”
After graduation, she plans to continue with her two current jobs, a barista and the children’s ministry coordinator at Jake’s House Church, but she’s also interested in construction.
Students were given time cards for the day. They clocked in and out, worked at the various stations, and had a lunch break. The stations featured presenters from fields including emergency services, transit, construction and utilities. A search-and-rescue boat was on a trailer next to a dump truck and the backhoe. The students hammering nails weren’t far from a Community Transit bus, or a model of the top of a utility pole where PUD workers explained their jobs.
“This is their work day,” said David Carpenter, career and college readiness counselor. “They’re not in class. They’re out exploring.”
Cory Barthelette, 16, was intrigued by all the stations at Trade Up. He liked asking questions of workers who could answer with firsthand knowledge. Trying out tools and trucks was eye-opening, he said.
“You get to experience it in person instead of reading about it in a book or looking at it on a board,” Barthelette said.
He’d like to be a firefighter or police officer. He learned during the event about different specialties and the types of training he might want to look into.
Trade Up is put on by the Snohomish County Labor Council, United Way of Snohomish County and Workforce Snohomish. Cascade High School also hosted an event this week, and at least 140 students participated throughout the day, said Charlotte Murry, office manager for the labor council.
“In today’s society, basically most kids are programmed that the next step after high school is college and that’s the only way they’re going to make it in this world,” Murry said. “That’s just not true.”
There are many options for on-the-job training after high school that can lead to high-paying, stable careers, she said.
“When you can put kids in front of the actual piece of machinery or they listen to someone from the trades — the electricians are explaining how electricity works, the plumbers are showing them how to work on pipes — you see the spark in their eyes,” Carpenter said.
Trade Up is not the only career exploration event for Marysville students, he said. A military career day, with representatives from all branches of the armed forces, is planned for May 10. Students also have gone to regional conferences, such as Women in Trade in Seattle.
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; email@example.com.