Meet Jacob Cannon
Jacob Cannon, 19, from Boca Raton, FL, graduated from Tulsa Welding School – Jacksonville campus in April 2015. Prior to enrolling in the Professional Welder program Jacob had never picked up a welding torch, but now he’s welding for a living!
Thanks for your time Jacob; what made you choose a career in welding?
My whole family have always been blue collar people, but no one in my family is a welder. It’s just something I’ve always liked, and something I really wanted to try. I went on the internet, found the Tulsa Welding School website and saw they had a campus about four and a half hours away up in Jacksonville. So I decided to take a chance. I took a couple of months to save up some money after graduating high school, then I upped and moved. And I couldn’t be happier that I did.
How was the experience of moving away from home at 18?
It was good; I needed it. I had to grow up. It taught me how to pay my bills and how to manage my money. My parents tried to help out as much as they could at the beginning, but I wanted to try and do it on my own. I took the morning class at TWS, so I’d go to school from 7am to 12pm, then I’d work from 1pm to 6pm cleaning pools, and then go back to school at around 7pm to practice with the evening class. That was my daily routine. I wanted to work as much as I could, while going to school as much as I could.
What was the favorite part about the program, and why?
I really liked how hands-on it was. I’m not a huge fan of classrooms. Being out there having someone show you something, and then trying to duplicate it as the instructor is showing you, teaching you things, is definitely better for me than sitting in a classroom.
How did it feel to graduate TWS?
I was the only person in my family to graduate high school, and now the only person in my family to go to any kind of college or trade school. So it was a great feeling seeing how proud my parents were when they came up for the graduation ceremony.
How long did it take you to find work after graduating?
I graduated on Friday and got a job on the Monday. I worked that job for about two weeks and then saw another opening down the road that was paying a little more money, so I put in my two weeks’ notice and went to the new job.
What kind of work are you doing?
I work for a company that builds industrial truck bodies for businesses like lawn service companies, concrete companies. Basically any kind of big truck body or bed they need. It’s a full-on fabricating job, so I weld pretty much all day.
How did you get a job on a Monday after graduating on Friday?
I found it at a local job site and applied. They called to ask when I could be there. I told them I graduate Friday, so I can be there Monday. I went in Monday morning, took a weld test and a blueprint test, passed them both and worked all day Monday. I wasn’t expecting that. I figured it might take them a few days or a week to come back to me. I knew when I enrolled at TWS that I was going to work my hardest and try my hardest to get a job fast, but when I didn’t think I’d be working instantly.
What did you do with your first paycheck?
I put it straight in the bank!
Three months into your career, where do you hope to be in three years?
I definitely want to get more experience, another year or two, then I’d like to move on to something bigger. Maybe a big welding job out in Texas or maybe off-shore, something like that. Something a little higher up in the welding world. If I got the opportunity and knew that I could make it happen, I’d take it.
And longer term? What would like to do?
My long term goal is eventually to go back to TWS and be an instructor. The school says you need to have a minimum of six years welding experience before you can go back to there to teach, so that’s the plan.
What is about the school or teaching that appeals to you?
I was in a group of kids who had never welded before. I made a lot of close friends and within a week we were competing to see who was the better welder. We were loving it. The instructors became close friends; I still talk with them regularly three months after graduating. You could see how much they care, how much they want their students to learn. I’d like to feel that also; I’d like to make a difference.
What would be your dream job?
Maybe doing a big TIG job out on an oil rig somewhere, that would be kind of cool. Or, as I just said, being a TWS instructor.
Do you feel you’re on your way to becoming a specialist?
Yes, definitely. The school did everything they could, and then some, to help us become specialists. The focus was perfect. I didn’t want to spend money and time on something I was never going to use again you know? The fact that the program is pretty much pure welding is exactly what I was looking for.
I just need to get more experience. I’m always trying to learn new, different things and I think to be a specialist, you have to accept that you’ll always be learning, even if you’re at the top of your field.
What’s your favorite aspect of your new trade?
Honestly just working with my hands every day, and doing something that not many people can do. Although I’ve just started, I’m happy with the money. It’s a lot better than flipping burgers for minimum wage that a lot of 18/19 year olds are doing.
Have you made some lasting connections at the school?
I made some great connections. Yes, I made some good friends, but the instructors became true friends too. I have classmates calling me from all over, from different states, to tell me that there’s work wherever they are. It’s like a private network of opportunities.
What advice would you give to new students who are just starting out?
I would tell them to just go for it. Ignore any doubts that you may have that it’s not going to work out, or it’s not going to be a good school. It’s the exact opposite; it’s a great school and I couldn’t be happier that I went. At times the program was tough for sure, but quitting never crossed my mind. I went into this to be one of the best and get through it, and that’s definitely what I did.
What do you do for fun?
I do a lot of fishing, mostly lake fishing.
If you were a millionaire for a day, what would you do?
I’d probably go to work!
Let’s finish with some quick fire questions?
- Football or baseball? Football.
- Ford or Chevy? That’s tough…I’ll go with Ford.
- Pizza or wings? Wings.
- Win the lottery or find a perfect job? Perfect job.
If you’re a TWS graduate and would like to share your success and be an inspiration to others, please email [email protected] to be considered for a Graduate Connection interview, please include details such as your graduation date (month/year), program and campus name (Tulsa/Jacksonville/Houston).