Everyone assumed Kevin King would graduate and head straight to college.
“I was your stereotypical AP student,” he notes. “Straight A’s through middle school, almost straight A’s through high school … I was the guy you would look at and say, ‘He’s going to college.’ It was just a matter of which one.”
As it turned out, Kevin picked a different path – one that perfectly fit his goals and interests. His struggle wasn’t figuring out what he wanted to do – it was coming to terms with the fact that what he really wanted for himself was different than what others expected of him.
In high school, he realized he was passionate about creating things.
“I began looking into apprenticeships around the time I started to look into engineering,” Kevin explains. “That meshed well with what I wanted to do – work with my hands to build things. I began to seriously talk with machine shops that were interested in getting apprentices. That same year, my school district started a partnership with a company to pilot a new apprenticeship program.”
“I said… ‘Yes! That is what I want to do!’” he recalls.
He wasn’t alone in thinking this approach was a good fit. As a junior, when Kevin became eligible for the program, he learned that – without even asking – three of his career and technical education teachers had recommended him as a candidate.
He took the necessary steps and tests but wasn’t one of the two students selected. Yet what seemed like a dead end, opened a new door. When Noel Ginsburg, the CEO of InterTech Plastics and co-founder of CareerWise, was considering InterTech’s apprentices, Kevin came to mind.
CareerWise is a three-year apprenticeship designed by businesses and offered in partnership with schools. It places students in meaningful, paid positions for up to 24 hours a week, while they also earn high school and college credits. Kevin was part-way through senior year when he began apprenticing at InterTech. “I spent the rest of the year going to school and work every other day.”
Kevin found his new schedule to be more challenging but rose to meet these higher expectations. In fact, instead of serving a three-year apprenticeship, he was officially hired after a year – about six months after earning his high school diploma. “I was already working about 45 hours a week. But now my job description has changed. I receive full benefits and everything.”
As a technician who automates assembly lines, Kevin leads projects that take from two weeks to six months to complete and found himself in charge of developing new quality controls and process improvements.
Whatever next steps Kevin takes to advance professionally and pursue lifelong learning, one thing is clear. “I love what I’m doing here,” he says, “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do – design and make cool things.”