Sedalia high school juniors and seniors are getting hands-on training to experience what working in the real world is like, thanks to a group of business people in the community.
Sedalia FIT is a 40-hour internship program that was implemented last year at Sacred Heart High School. Developed by Ed Watkins and a committee of local leaders in business and industry, education and professional fields, the program expanded earlier this year to include seniors at Smith-Cotton High School.
This week, 50 juniors and seniors from the two schools have made the commitment to work in unpaid internships at area businesses.
The students were placed in their respective job locations after taking an interest inventory and completing an interview that helped to determine the best placement for their apprenticeship.
This is the first in a series of articles about the juniors and seniors who have been placed through the FIT Program and the experiences both they and their employers have shared.
Smith-Cotton senior Jacob Moon is enrolled in the CTC program at State Fair Community College. He will graduate in May as a certified welder.
“I’ve always wanted to be a welder,” Moon said. “My grandpa let me weld when I was a little boy and I really liked it — ever since then I have been hooked.
“It is something that is fun and I really enjoy doing it,” he added. “Once I heard about the FIT internship, I jumped on it and I was really persistent with being placed in a welding position and I don’t think I would have taken anything else.”
Moon said he is grateful for the opportunity to observe a “real world” fabricator because there is a great deal more to the job than what meets the eye.
“There is so much more detailed information in the prints that we have to work with here than I am used to seeing in some of my classes,” Moon said. “I am not used to some of the machinery here either; they have a forklift here that blew my mind.”
Heritage Fabrication employs 21 individuals and is owned by Todd Hudson, who built the business from the ground up 13 years ago.
Like Moon, Hudson went through the Vo-Tech (now CTC program) when he was in high school and completed a business degree in college.
Because of his experience as a welder and his business background, Hudson is able to offer Moon two sides of the occupation.
“It’s an exciting program because they seeing actual work being done,” Hudson said. “They see what we can do and anything that Jacob can do here we are letting him have the opportunity to do.
“They are some things we can’t allow because he is not fully certified as a welder yet but we think it has been a good experience because he is learning a lot more about the industry and what it takes to work in this area than he probably first realized,” Hudson added.
Heritage Foundation operates four 10-hour days a week, Monday through Thursday, and Moon completed his internship Thursday.
During his time at work, he has spent most of his time with Andrew Dotson, weld supervisor at the company.
When not with Dotson, Moon was shadowing a number of the welders at the plant and had the opportunity to spend time with Hudson.
“He has done really well on everything we have asked him to do,” Hudson said. “In fact when he leaves here tomorrow I’m planning on giving him an application for employment once he graduates in a few weeks.
“There aren’t enough people who want to get into this trade,” Hudson added. “When you have a young person who is as willing to learn as Jacob is, it really makes me happy because welding is a dying trade.”
Hudson said he was happy to have the opportunity to accept an intern in the FIT Program.
“I would do this again in a heartbeat,” Hudson said. “In fact I would encourage any company or business owner who has the capabilities to do so.
“There are a number of talented individuals here that we would like to keep here in the community,” he added. “They are the future.”
As for Moon’s future after graduation, he plans to continue his education at SFCC, eventually working as a welder.
“I’m really grateful I had the opportunity to do this,” Moon said. “I’ve enjoyed this and I have really learned a lot, not only about the job but about myself. I really just want to work and stay here in Sedalia because my family is one of my No. 1 priorities.
“My mother has drilled into me since I was a little boy that ‘if you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life,’” he added. “I have loved what I have done here this week, this experience has helped me understand that even more.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484