During the 2015 National Craft Championships (NCC) Team Competition, Mike Bradley took home the gold medal with the rest of Team Iowa. In the first of a two-part blog post, Bradley tells his story of choosing a career in construction and offers advice to students considering a career in construction. Bradley currently works for Iowa Insulation in Ames, Iowa.
I graduated high school from high school in Denison, Iowa in the top 15 percent of my class. From there, I went on to graduate from Dana College in Blair, Neb., with a degree in teaching.
During the summer of 2006 while on break from college, I worked as a summer helper for Iowa Insulation and then continued to work for them part-time after both my junior and senior years because I liked the work so much. After looking for a teaching job and substitute teaching for a year, I joined on with Iowa Insulation full time in the fall of 2009.
I knew I made the right decision after my first day working full time.
During my apprenticeship, I worked with a very skilled journeyman and being trained in both the field and in the classroom contributed heavily to where I am now. I learned that if you work hard, keep your head down, and your finished product looks good, rewards and opportunities will come to you. Respect is earned on the jobsite in this business and nothing earns respect like doing your job the right way the first time.
I progressed quickly and wanted to run work as soon as I could, but after talking to a few skilled journeymen in our company and hearing how they went through training, I realized I needed to patient and let the program run its course.
Ever since joining the industry full-time, I have been steadily moving my way up the company where I am currently running one our company’s biggest jobs, working as our company’s apprenticeship teacher, and taking on the role of employee representative.
But the most rewarding thing for me is knowing that I’m helping to build this country up a little bit at a time. This is a job where I can see and touch something I’ve made with my own two hands daily. It feels great when it all comes together and I’m left with something that will be there for decades to come.
For students who might be unsure of what career path to take, I would tell them to be sure they make their own choices and believe in their abilities. If they are active, hands-on learners, then I would strongly recommend looking at getting into an apprenticeship program for whatever trade they would like to pursue.
Do something that makes you happy. If you don’t like your job, find a new one.
Choosing a career in construction was the best decision for me, and I wouldn’t change a thing about how it has gone so far.