The Road Less Traveled: A Success Story
Ryan Boling, Training Operations Manager, HB NEXT
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” ~ Robert Frost, 1916
When Steven Uriostegui graduated from Marietta, GA’s Osborne High School in May of 2016, he was a little unsure of the direction in which he wanted to take his life.
For several months prior to graduating high school, Steven, like many students, was faced with the task of choosing between a dizzying multitude of career paths; many of which, would have required a substantial educational (and financial) commitment on his behalf. While there are a great many career opportunities in today’s open job market that proudly boast competitive starting salaries for entry-level employees and college graduates, more and more students these days are finding themselves saddled with considerable debt upon graduating college. Absent the privilege of academic scholarships or the benefit of individuals who can support them financially, the affordability of a traditional college education for students is seemingly becoming out of reach.
Needless to say, Steven soon found himself after graduation faced with yet another critical life decision:
Do I go to college and possibly grad school for the next 4 – 8 years of my life in hopes of potentially landing a high-paying job? Or, do I forego higher education for the time being, go to work with an established company and get a head start towards building my financial future?
Some high school graduates, will ruminate over these types of questions for months -working random part-time or full-time jobs, hanging out with friends and aimlessly taking all the time deemed necessary to ‘figure it out’- before eventually arriving at a decisive course of personal action. Prior to graduation, Steven happened upon an advertising flyer at school for a Construction Ready program sponsored by the Build Cobb Partnership; a joint venture between Cobb Works, the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA), HB NEXT and The Collective at Cumberland. It was at this point when Steven’s direction for his career and his future suddenly came into crystal clear focus.
So began Steven’s journey into the world of construction; with his first step, being accepted (after a rigorous screening and selection process) into Construction Ready as one of the youngest candidates ever in the Program’s history. The Construction Ready program, a 20-day crash course, boot camp- construction-style training regimen structured to prepare candidates for entry-level opportunities and careers in construction, was the vehicle which propelled Steven into his current job. In just five short weeks, Steven went from mulling over his career and life choices to becoming a trained, credentialed, ambitious and gainfully-employed associate of a renowned general contracting firm, J.E. Dunn Construction. In expeditious fashion, Steven positioned himself to forge his own career path, become self- sufficient and ultimately, to control his own destiny.
While Steven’s decision to pursue a career in construction prior to earning a college degree was at first met with some skepticism by his family, he went ahead and took a leap of faith; drawing support and encouragement from some of his closest friends. Steven’s potential was evident to his Construction Ready instructors and administrators almost immediately upon starting the program in June of 2016. As a component of Steven’s screening for Construction Ready, he underwent an ‘Industry Interview’ conducted by Mark Hornbuckle, a former General Superintendent and 30+ year veteran of the construction industry. These ‘Industry Interviews’ are proprietary to Construction Ready and are specifically designed to quickly gauge a candidate’s readiness to enter the construction industry. According to Hornbuckle, “I tried, but Steven was not going to be scared away from this program, nor this industry”. Not only does he speak two languages, but Steven -of his own volition- chose to seat himself at the front of the classroom each day during the 20-day program; quickly establishing himself as a leader amongst his (elder) peers.
From a historical perspective, college has been and in many cases will continue to be, the next logical milestone for students after graduating high school. College educations open many opportunities; they prepare the future leaders of our society to hold jobs in various disciplines and to excel in advanced fields of study. It is an important tradition that has been upheld by families for centuries; and culturally, is heralded by many as a rite of passage into adulthood. However, when adherence to this cultural ‘norm’ becomes less attractive or infeasible, for whatever reasons, families (including students themselves) are forced to make some very tough economic decisions.
While attending college directly out of high school was not necessarily the ideal path for Steven, utilizing the skills and credentialing he gained through his experience with Construction Ready, he is nonetheless positioned for a successful and lucrative career in construction. Specializing in the carpentry trade, Steven now works on an installation crew where he helps move various materials, build rack stops and build wire mesh partitions on a high-profile construction project near Atlanta, GA. He aspires to one day assume leadership over some of his own projects, as a Foreman or Superintendent for J.E. Dunn Construction. What’s more, is that Steven will continue to enjoy the luxury of managing his income year after year without the stress or financial burden associated with having to repay an educational loan. With all of the flexible education options currently available to modern-day working professionals, Steven can pursue a college degree at his own pace, on his own schedule and on his own terms.
Sometimes, the burdens of peer pressure and the search for approval from others compel students to make decisions that, while largely popular, are not necessarily in their best interests. Steven Uriostegui is living proof that the road to success does not always have to be paved with credit hours, research papers or tuition payments. There are other roadways to success; paved with attributes such as dedication, perseverance, dependability and most importantly, good old-fashioned hard work.
Perhaps Robert Frost was on to something, all those years ago…