AUGUSTA, Ga. (WFXG) - Two Richmond County teens just graduated high school this year and already they’ve signed as full time apprentices with Gold Mech mechnical contractors.
18-year-old Alexander Shade and Casey Egan are already hard at work. They officially signed their offer letters with Gold Mech on Tuesday, August 13 but their journey started in high school.
Shade received his welding certification while in high school through Richmond County School System's Marion E. Barnes Career Center.
"At the time I was playing football, and I realized I wasn't going to get a scholarship, so I was like let’s try something new," Shade said.
Egan got to work by following in his dad's foot steps who also works for Gold Mech. Egan is already one year into the four year apprenticeship.
"I was working my last senior year of high school completely with Gold Mech on job sites after school, 2 to 3 hours a day, so I could work my way up," Egan said."I think it’s great what they’re doing, and in '97 I did the exact same thing – I left Hephzibah high school trying to figure out what exactly I was gonna do," Ben McGhee said, the director of Gold Mech's apprenticeship program.
"I don’t see myself going to the military," Shade said. "I don’t see myself going to college. I see myself actually staying and actually learning something that will help me and stuff that I like to do."
"When you finish your certification you can take that, what you learned, and go anywhere," McGhee said. "A lot of college kids that I know they finish college and they’re trying to figure out what they’re going to do."
It's hard work, but Egan and Shade say it's worth it.
"At the beginning I would go home and go straight to sleep because I wasn’t used to working," Shade said, "but now it’s just, I feel happy afterwards because I make my own money, and I don’t have to sit here and worry about my parents having to give me stuff."
"Don’t let anybody hold you back from doing what you want to do," Egan said. "My drive came from wanting to do better wanting to have my own family, my own house, own car."
"It’s very gratifying when you get to a job," McGhee said,"and you see it start from nothing and then when you finish, you built this big building, and you’re like 'Wow, I can’t believe it.''
“You can take what you’ve learned and go across the United States, across the world,” he added.