Many of you may not remember how you saw this industry before you joined it. Some of you may have come from families in the field, and so from the start have had an inside view. But sometimes to affect how people see you, you have to understand their viewpoint.

I feel that a lot of people, like I used to, see the construction industry as manual labor, simple and unfulfilling. It wasn’t until I shadowed Building Construction Technology (BCT) class — on a whim — that I saw the depth and range of the field. I saw the workmanship, the artistry, the inner office jobs that people don’t get the chance to see. I saw some of the reasons people choose this field as their career, and the pride they have in their work. And I think it’s a shame that more people don’t see that.

I wish that more passionate professionals would go out and share the joy they have in their career with the many young people who haven’t been exposed to it. I’m not just talking about the students who are thinking of going into the field, but the artists, the office workers, and the young adults who don’t really know their paths yet. People who hadn’t given a thought to the industry, passed it off as not for them. Because sometimes, all you need is to show someone how deep and complex it really is, and the passion that you all have for your jobs.

Among these students that pass by construction are the ones that are the hardworking, bright, and curious, the ones who make the best workers. These are the people who might want to start their own company, who want to create and design things, and all they need to become interested is to be shown the parts of the industry that aren’t seen by the average outsider. Because we shouldn’t see them as outsiders, but as potential partners.

In my case, and I expect many others, it wasn’t an initial interest in wiring or plumbing that got me to enroll in the HBI program. It was the environment and the instructor. I was allowed to delve into the areas I was interested in. I was inspired and helped along by the instructor. And eventually, I took BCT as my trade at Job Corps, despite coming here expecting to be a chef. My instructor allowed me to see the parts of the industry I could see myself in, gave me access to knowledge I didn’t have before, and it changed my view on the industry.

If you are the type to think about the bottom line, think about the people, the talented, driven workers that you desperately need to come into the trade. Think about the morale boost or the productivity that may come from it. But what I’m asking you, not as professionals, but as people, is simply this: Don’t you want to share your passion? See the spark in a young person’s eyes and know you have changed their life? And to see them adopt that joy as their own? This is my real hope, that the hidden passion of the industry could be seen by more of the world, because I almost missed out on seeing it myself.

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