On-the-Job Training

Recent High School Graduate Andrew Hoffman Dives Head-First into Full-Time Career

Story and photos by Allen Allnoch

With each passing day in the fall of 2017, a multipurpose athletic center took shape on the campus of Dahlonega’s Lumpkin County High School. And right along with that 31,000-square-foot structure grew the burgeoning career of a young man from nearby Hall County.

Andrew Hoffman has been employed full-time by Carroll Daniel Construction since graduating from Gainesville’s Johnson High in May 2017. The Lumpkin County site was his third assignment with the company, following stints at an assisted living facility and a food processing plant.

Andrew hasn’t ruled out more school at some point, but so far he’s found on-the-job training to be the most effective education.

“I like working with my hands,” he says. “I’m not the type to sit in an office all day. I like being out in the sun and doing things hands-on. I’ve kind of just jumped in and am seeing where it takes me.”

Jason Chester, superintendent on the Lumpkin County High job, says Andrew found the ideal opportunity with Carroll Daniel.

“At this company, we jump around from one thing to another,” Chester says. “Andrew might be cutting out concrete one day, he might be building temporary door frames or knockouts for windows, he might be doing cleanup. End of the day, we have to get this building built, so it’s all hands on deck, whatever needs to be done. And that’s great for guys like him.”

Also, Chester added, “he has more background than I had when I first started. Common sense, even more than book smarts, will get you a long way out here in this construction world.”

Andrew first took an interest in construction as a young boy watching his father add a carport onto their home. More home improvement projects followed. As a high school upperclassman, he took construction classes and competed in regional and state SkillsUSA contests.

“Those competitions helped me,” he recalls. “One way was in knowing how to read blueprints. Like, for example, I happened to look at some blueprints of [a completed component] one day, and I realized, ‘Hey, I could have built that.’ I knew what it meant.”

Andrew connected with Carroll Daniel after HR Manager Cassie Sherman came to speak to his class at Johnson High. His teacher recommended they talk, Sherman asked for a resume, and just like that, Andrew’s post-graduation plans were set.

He began work right away as an entry-level laborer. Carroll Daniel provides promising young workers with a senior-level mentor to work alongside them, plus training and certification courses in everything from OSHA standards to forklift operation.

And of course there’s that all-important on-the-job experience. For example, on Carroll Daniel’s job site at Gold Creek Foods in Dawsonville, Andrew got his first exposure to welding.

“I had never been around welding or really any part of the industrial side of things before, so that was interesting,” he says. “Two years ago, when I turned 16, I never imagined I would be six flights up on a roof, helping a welder do his job.”

But there he is, doing whatever is asked of him, learning as he goes and, as Sherman says, “quickly progressing up the ladder.”

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