Careerops Making Career Choices with Family in Mind 10 from the Camp Pendleton VIP Welding program in 2015. In the Marine Corps, he worked as a helicopter mechanic, and he said that initially he was inter- ested in pursuing a career as an aircra mechanic, until he heard about the United Association’s VIP Welding program at Camp Pendleton. “I didn’t know quite what all it entailed,” Patrick said, “but I knew they were going to teach me to weld. I had a little welding experience prior to the military, but nothing compared to what the program offered.” Patrick applied for the program, and was ex- cited when he was accepted. He said, “e pro- gram was great. It got my foot in the door. ey taught me more than just putting the rod on the pipe. ey teach you all the fundamentals. ey break it down so that you feel comfortable with the whole process, about what you are required to put together from start to finish.” With three United Association welding certifi- cations under his belt, Patrick graduated and opted to return home to Wichita, KS. “My entire family is in Wichita. I have a wife and five kids, one set of twins, so being close to our families was a priority for us,” he said. “My transition was smooth,” he added. “Origi- nally, I thought I would be welding all the time. I very quickly realized there is so much more to this cra. I learned how to solder and braze and how to fit pipe. I learned how to operate different types of machinery and all kinds of equipment, some of which I had never heard of before.” Patrick has a strong family bond, and he realized that he would do whatever it took to stay employed for his family. His motivation was not to have to travel to other areas of employment. He wanted to stay in Wichita, so he pursued his plumbing license as well. Today, Patrick is classified as a pipefitter/plumber, and he is going to school to obtain his Master Plumbing license through the UA. He said, “Technically, I am going to go for my Master Plumbing license. I’d like to stay local, and I feel that plumbing will help keep me employed locally. I don’t really want to go on the road. With five kids, my wife needs my help. It works best for my family.” Patrick is the first union member in his family and will also be the first plumber/pipefitter. He stated that the benefits are such a plus for his large family. He said, “I don’t know any place that is comparable. e hours are very competitive. We get paid better than 90 percent of other con- struction workers. I feel very safe going to work. For me, safety is number one, and with the UA, you feel comfortable that if you see something on the job that you feel isn’t safe that you can bring it to someone’s attention, and that they’ll listen and do something about it.” “I’ve been employed full time since I’ve been home,” Patrick added. “e VIP program is such an excellent program. I would encourage anyone to apply for it. It’s been the best choice for my family and me.” P atrick Schmitz Patrick Schmitz graduated