Finding My Passion in Burning Metal
By: Jessica Zethraus, Co-Host of The Family Burrito Podcast
What I was taught about trade schools
I was always taught trade schools were no good for me and I believed the people telling me this (teachers, kids at school, family members). Not because I thought badly about trade schools, but mostly because I was worried about what others would think of me if I didn’t go to a traditional university.
The “Right” Step
So when I graduated high school, I went to a Community College at first, thinking this would be the right step to get into a university and get some of my college classes done cheaper. Well, after I graduated with an associate degree, I ended up going to the University of Texas at Arlington. Majoring in Business Marketing I thought I was going to take over the world. Not sure how yet, but I believed I was doing the right thing. Especially because marketing is so fascinating!!
Three Times the Charm
In July 2014, I took my last university college class and ended up graduating for the 3rd time–this time with a business marketing degree. At this point, I was working at the family car dealership in the accounting office. I had been at that job since I was 17 years old and at this point, I was 24. I wanted to find something different, but all the job offers I got in marketing were a JOKE. I mean, straight-up laughable.
Unless I wanted to ask my family for money forever… which was becoming closer and closer to not being an option at all.
All about the Benjamins
So, I ended up taking my Series 7 to become a financial advisor. Spent $1,200 on this 7-hour test to show that I understood how the stock market worked. I made a 50%- not for the lack of trying, but honestly for the lack of not giving a crap about being a financial advisor.
The only reason I even thought about it was because of the money one can make. There I was, just thinking about stacking dollars.
The Gear Shift
Then in 2017, I moved to Colorado, and my whole life changed. My roommate in Texas came with me to Colorado and introduced me to the fascinating world of motorcycles and dirt bikes.
I fell in love with not only riding but also the bike mechanics of how everything works. My roommate started teaching me how to work on my own bikes, and from there I started working on more and more engines and even cars.
I was so happy that I figured out a skill that I could charge for and help people with my own knowledge and skill.
The Fabrication of My Life
I wanted to build my own crash cages for motorcycles, frames, etc. I wanted to learn how to fabricate. Unfortunately, not a skill I nor my roommate knew–not to the extent of making motorcycle frames. So, I started looking into tech schools (a 17-year-old me would have been blown away). I decided to go to Lincoln Tech near me, only a 10-minute drive.
Honestly, it seemed like it was meant to be.
My First Day of Welding School
On my first day of welding school, I was so excited to learn something new and move forward in life.
What I didn’t know is that I was about to find my TRUE passion. I am so happy when I’m under that welding hood, solely focused on making something new and learning from my mistakes. I do cuss a lot! Tons of tools get thrown around… but somehow, I still love welding and fabrication. The sparks, the smell of burning metal and electrodes, and even the heat the welds give off are amazing.
Heavy Earth Metal
The fact that metal just grows in the earth, then humans figured out how to use it and mix different metals to make superalloys, so we have Jet engines is just fascinating. If you go on a roller coaster, you’ll be able to see the welds, you’ll be able to see that a human literally made something out of a bunch of nothing.
Even though I didn’t go to a tech school right out of high school, I think I did the right thing going back at 32. I was able to learn a new trade. Remember: as long as we’re learning, we are living!
Keep on Burnin’ that Metal,