This AOL Jobs Week we are spotlighting America's skilled workers. What better way to understand what they do than to have them share their stories.
Altheha DrePaul was aided in her effort by a regional worker education program called M-Powered, a collaboration between a local technical college and the area's workforce development agency, which prepares workers in a number of fields, including the trade DrePaul pursued -- metal forming.
Mitchell Graska didn't start his working life wanting be a recreational vehicle technician. In fact, he likely didn't even know the profession existed when he left Indiana nearly 30 years ago to become a pipeline welder in Texas.
"I guess the joy that I get out of this industry is just the fact that you're not sitting behind a desk all day," Church says. "You go from sitting at a desk drawing the part that you're going to make to going out on the floor and making the part that you drew."
Lately it's been like a roller coaster. But we [New York doormen] have had two hits. First there was 9/11. There was just no tourism after that. I claimed bankruptcy... you can quote me on that. And then there was the economic crash.
"When you see unemployment, you think, that's never going to happen to me. I'm a college student, I'm smarter, I'm better. Getting in the job market when I did was a big eye-opening experience. I'm not immune to this. I'm not immune to struggling. I'm not immune to taking a job that's not my dream."
Nick Mangano, 17, says that he was motivated by a desire to begin working in a good job right after graduating. "I wanted something out of high school that was better than a fast food place," he says. "So I thought welding would be a good way to go."