5 steps to finding a career


Learn more about:

STEP 1 Academic and career planning.

In school, you’ve probably worked with a guidance counselor to identify areas of interest. This involves answering a few questions about yourself.

You can speak with mentors who will tell you what you need to know about their jobs: how they got there and what they do. You can then decide if that career is realistic for you.

What STUFF do you want to do?

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Take this work interest quiz to find out. Choose the letter most like you.

Each letter represents an interest area with careers that might be a good fit. Which letter did you choose most?

People tell me that I am:

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a) Full of energy

b) Logic-minded

c) A talented writer

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d) Good at negotiating

My favorite class in school is:

a) Woodshop

b) Chemistry

c) Art

d) Statistics

In my free time, I like to:

a) Build and fix things

b) Explore new technologies

c) Dream up inventions

d) Get organized

I admire:

a) Mike Rowe, host of “Dirty Jobs”

b) Stephen Hawking, astrophysicist

c) Walt Disney, animation visionary

d) Warren Buffet, billionaire businessman

Mostly As: You are hands-on. The more you are able to touch and manipulate the information, the easier it will be for you to learn.

Possible careers: Welder, CNC programmer, assembler, machinist (tool & die), electrical engineer.

Mostly Bs: You are scientific. You typically work through problems and issues in a systematic way, and you like to create procedures for future use.

Possible careers: CAD designer, product developer, mechanical engineer, robotics/automation specialist, industrial engineer.

Mostly Cs: You are creative. You enjoy using images, colors and maps to organize information and communicate with others.

Possible careers: Web designer, advertising representative, network support staff, marketing manager, software programmer.

Mostly Ds: You are business-minded. You like to work through issues, ideas and problems with a group.

Possible careers: Trainer, human resources assistant, computer information systems manager, accounts payable clerk, supervisor.

(Source: Adapted from Dream It. Do it. – Wisconsin)

Go pro: Reality check with a professional athlete

One of the most popular career aspirations for young adults is pro athlete. Here’s some advice from one who knows: a professional athlete career coach.

“I played professional basketball. The road to becoming a professional athlete is not as glamorous as the end result appears to be. Whether you want to be a professional baseball player, lawyer, engineer or architect, you have to be focused and dedicated to achieve that goal.

“Right now, there are probably millions of ninth graders who want to become professional ballplayers. However, only a small percentage of those people will actually achieve that goal.

“A quick look at the rosters of the three professional Wisconsin sports teams shows 25 players on the Brewers roster, 53 players on the Packers roster and 15 players on the Bucks roster, for a total of 93 pro sports jobs in the entire state.

“So what can you do to move closer to your goal?

“Start with your academics and make sure you’re not only always eligible to play, but also excel academically. If you’re not good enough to play at the professional level, you’ll at least have a good education that will help you pursue another career path. Now get to work.”

You can read more from this career coach and many others at careercruising.com (INSPIRE Southeast Wisconsin).

STEP 2 Get exposed to business.

Once you’ve identified an area of work you might pursue, get to know local businesses where you might apply your talents and learn new skills.

Some ways to learn about local employers include participating in tours of businesses, going to career fairs and attending information sessions at school. Recruiters offer mock interviews and speed interviewing to sample a variety of industries.

More involved career experiences might include doing a job shadow, where students can go through a day of work at a business to experience the daily challenges of a role.

Internships or co-ops can offer students real-world experience on the job while going to high school or technical college as part of their schooling.

The Metropolitan Builders Association of Greater Milwaukee this spring offered a Building Trades Career Day for high school students in conjunction with the 2018 Parade of Homes. MBA hosted nearly 400 students from 13 local schools at Lake Country Village in Summit and Hidden Hills in Sussex.

Students were invited to tour the job sites and hear trades workers talk about their jobs. They got a glimpse of the new home construction process and it introduced them to career opportunities in the trades.

The 2018 MBA Parade of Homes runs Aug. 11 through Sept. 3, and will feature 22 brand new homes from 20 of southeastern Wisconsin’s top homebuilders, in three subdivisions.

STEP 3 Take a class.

If you’ve found a few interest areas you might like to pursue, find a class to hone your skills. A school guidance counselor can help you map your interests to the class offerings in your school district.

Working on machines that real factories use means students are prepared for future jobs. Arrowhead Union High School District has gone through many transitions and is working to replace the outdated shops of yesterday with modern, bright labs of tomorrow for mechanically inclined students.

Schools try to line up classes with the needs of the economy in which students will work. For example, some New Berlin students are learning about modernized smart factories that share data among machines. Factories now have layers of technology that workers need to understand.

The class offering, “How Machines Work,” developed from business leaders recognizing a need to upskill manufacturing talent for high-tech analytics. For some of the projects, students have access to Waukesha County Technical College’s robotics equipment in its Advanced Manufacturing Center.

STEP 4 join a club.

Project-based, hands-on learning is one of the best ways to find out what you like to do. You never know unless you try! Many groups, at schools and beyond, offer career exposure to tasks one might perform on the job. Challenges often are presented as contests, with prizes awarded. The New Berlin Blitz robotics team designs and builds a robot to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition.

Many jobs today and in the future will require STEM skills. A need for greater diversity in these fields is drawing businesses to involve young women in these areas, such as the recent Girls in Manufacturing Tour attended by Waukesha West High School.

“These are the girls who will change the world,” said girls’ STEM Club advisor Elle Stigler.

An all-female team of motorcycle rehabbers in Milwaukee won several awards in the BUILD program this spring. It’s a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to pairing teams of high school students with bike-building mentors, founded by The Iron Horse Hotel.

New Berlin robotics team

The New Berlin Blitz robotics team is made up of 55 seventh through 12th grade students from both New Berlin West and New Berlin Eisenhower. The team recently implemented varsity lettering so the work of the robotics team is recognized alongside the school’s athletics teams.

Robot driver Robert Schweigel (left, above) and manipulator Logan Podlesnik (right) maneuver “Drew’s Dream.”

Girls in Manufacturing tour

The Waukesha County Business Alliance recently offered the first annual Girls in Manufacturing Schools2Skills tour at Alloy Products Corp. The Alliance has been running Schools2Skills tours for the past seven years to show high school students all the careers the manufacturing industry has to offer.

Betsy Bear Hoff, president of Alloy Products, spoke to students from Waukesha West High School’s all-girl STEM Club about why manufacturing is a great career option. Betsy is a fourth-generation family member working in the business.

“Everything I learned on the shop floor was helpful to get me where I am today,” Bear Hoff said.

She emphasized trying new things to find what you are good at and a job you enjoy.

Students were joined for the tour by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who told the girls, “Choose STEM, choose Wisconsin for school, and stay and work in Wisconsin!”

Students with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch on the Schools2Skills tour.

BUILD Program

The BUILD program teaches Milwaukee students to fix and build motorcycles from scratch. During a BUILD season, from January to June, the program provides each participating team with a vintage motorcycle to be worked on, along with mentors and a workspace, with the end goal of racing the bike in an American Flat Track motorcycle race.

The Iron Angels BUILD team was unique in that it was girls-only and consisted of students from multiple high schools. The seven Iron Angels students, spanning freshmen through seniors, came from Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, Franklin High School, Pius XI High School and Dominican High School. Six of them joined as builders and one joined to learn about finance and project management.

There were eight other BUILD teams during the 2018 season: New Berlin, Bradley Tech, Milwaukee Lutheran, Muskego, Oak Creek, Shorewood, South Milwaukee and St. Francis.

Some of the students have already put their new skills to use at home. One Iron Angel races mountain bikes as a hobby; she now fixes her own bike. Another team member said she feels more confident in basic mechanical-type tasks like changing a tire on her car. One of the other students signed up for an engineering camp.

The Iron Angels received three awards this season: Best Social Media, People’s Choice and Brewtown Rumble Judge’s Choice.

Leah Orloff and Loyal Prach of Shorewood’s DBR Racing team compete at the BUILD Race Day event.

STEP 5 Dual enroll.

If you feel like traditional school is not working for you, consider dual enrollment, where students go to school and also work. They earn credits, get experience and are paid. Graduates can use their money toward college, and some even get hired after graduation in a secure job.

GPS Education Partners’ education centers collaborate with school districts and business partners to piece together options for each individual student. They work to personalize a program so every student has a clear pathway to success.

Waukesha County Technical College’s Dual Enrollment Academy offers students their first year of a technical degree before they graduate high school. They shuttle to WCTC to get access to equipment.

Some kids want something more than the typical teenage job.

Go for it!

Welder in training

Faith Stenson is a student at East Troy High School who graduated in spring 2018 from GPS Education Partners. She trained as a welder at Banker Wire and plans to attend Gateway Technical College’s welding program post-graduation.

“The people I worked with at Banker Wire made me feel like I am one of them and they didn’t treat me like a little kid. I felt like I was a regular employee and part of the team,” Faith said.

How to apply

It’s easy to get involved with GPS Education Partners. Applications are accepted year round, so you can apply as a fall semester junior, spring semester junior or fall semester senior. To get started:

  • Talk to school staff and attend a tour of an education center/business partner.
  • Apply online at gpsed.org/apply.
  • Interview with GPS personnel. Next comes the admittance decision.
  • The final step is new student registration and orientation. Welcome!

Questions? Learn more at gpsed.org. Email enroll@gpsed.org or call 1-844-821-8118 for more information

A parent’s perspective on GPS Education Partners

Tim and Yoshi Halmar.

“The GPS program changed the life of our son, Yoshi Halmar, in a great way. It also had a profound and very positive effect on our entire family.

“My wife, Lynn, and I saw that the personalized attention in a much smaller group and in a non-traditional setting might be appealing to our son. We also recognized with some strong hope that our son might benefit from real-world experience, structure and personal accountability in an adult workplace.

“In addition to academics and manufacturing skills, the students learned and developed life skills, such as financial management, job searching and interviewing. On a regular basis, Yoshi joined his classmates to offer volunteer service to a range of community organizations. Field trips also provided hands-on and real-world examples and experience with some of the concepts they were learning about in the classroom.

“An incredible milestone that was immensely encouraging was when he was recognized for having perfect attendance for the entire junior year. In contrast, Yoshi had an excessive number of absences his freshman and sophomore years in the traditional academic setting.

“Yoshi earned four industry credentials through the GPS program, culminating in attaining the certified production technician certification from the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council. Even better, Yoshi accepted an offer to become a full-time employee at Danfoss.

“Each graduating student had the opportunity to offer a statement about his or her experience in GPS. Yoshi said, ‘The biggest skill I have developed the past two years is self-awareness. I have learned to think before I act.’

“Lynn and I offer our highest possible endorsement of the GPS program. We are deeply grateful for the tremendous outcomes with which our family has been blessed, and we’re thrilled that dozens of other families with students who graduated this spring achieved similarly wonderful success.”

— from Tim Halmar, father of Yoshi Halmar, a GPS graduate of Brown Deer High School (2018).

Max Czechowski – Waukesha County Technical College Dual Enrollment Academy student, 2016-’17


In May 2018, Max Czechowski earned his associate’s degree in automation systems technology from Waukesha County Technical College one year after graduating from Brookfield Central High School in June 2017.

Thanks to WCTC’s Dual Enrollment Academy program, Max was able to get a jumpstart in his education and complete the first year of studies in that AST program while he was a senior in high school.

It also has given him opportunities to serve internships at two companies – Pieper Electric Inc., where he spent the summer and fall of 2017 building industrial control panels, and most recently, at Schoeneck Containers Inc., where he works with automation processes.

“Technical education is really practical; it makes sense. What we learn here will make us successful in our careers,” Max said.

Max was named the 2018-’19 Student Ambassador for WCTC, was an Outstanding Student Award winner, and participated in the 2017 Skills Accelerator program though The Commons. He plans to earn a second associate’s degree at WCTC, in mechanical engineering technology, and later transfer into a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year college or university.

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