By Khalid Abdikarani
I’ve always loved airplanes. My dad is an engineer at Boeing, so I grew up surrounded by the aerospace industry and talked about it at the dinner table. Even so, as a kid, I wasn’t entirely sure aerospace was for me. I had a lot of interests like sports, math and working on cars. I needed an opportunity to explore what might be out there.
Core Plus Aerospace gave me that opportunity.
Core Plus Aerospace is a two-year manufacturing curriculum that teaches students real-world skills in manufacturing. Through hands-on coursework, students get exactly the opportunities I craved – projects and instruction that teach you the skills you need in industry and job site tours that allow you to meet with employers and explore industry.
I learned about Core Plus Aerospace at a two-week introduction class at the Puget Sound Skills Center (PSSC). PSSC serves high school juniors and seniors interested in specialized career and technical learning. Operated by Highline Public Schools, PSSC serves students from 22 partner high schools in Highline, Federal Way, Tukwila and Tahoma school districts.
My Core Plus Aerospace class was engaging and hands-on. I learned manufacturing skills like drilling, riveting and how to read blueprints. I also learned skills like how to write a resume, how to be a leader, interpersonal communication and teamwork – all things that would help me in any career.
During my junior year, I had the opportunity to participate in the Core Plus Aerospace internship at Boeing. The five-week, paid internship included a 40-hour work week and was designed to show what it’s like to work in the real world. My experience was awesome. I got to work alongside Boeing’s trainers at the factory in Renton, learn new electrical skills, and continue building on what I learned in Core Plus Aerospace.
After graduating high school, I accepted a job at Boeing in Renton, the same plant where I did my internship. Every day I use skills I learned in Core Plus Aerospace or during my internship. Core Plus Aerospace and the Boeing internship set me up for success and launched my career.
I’m continuing my education through Boeing’s Learning Together Program. Boeing is paying for my tuition and related expenses at the University of Washington where I’m studying electrical engineering. I plan to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in a few years.
I encourage students to take Core Plus Aerospace and apply for the Boeing internship. Students should take the opportunity in high school to explore and find what interests you. If you try new things, work hard and dedicate yourself to your goals, you will succeed.
Khalid is Core Plus Aerospace graduate and an electrician at The Boeing Company. He is also an electrical engineering student at the University of Washington.
This op-ed was originally featured in the B-Town Blog