have a degree, doesn’t mean you’ll get a job.” Melissa has been on the job since the end of March. She graduated from the VIP program in February of 2018 and then took a vacation before launching her new career. She is working for Brandt Mechanical Services in Austin and has been doing plumbing work at St. David’s Medical Center in North Austin. When asked how it was going, she was candid about her first experience working with a journeyman. “At first, I felt I just wanted to weld like I had been doing in the program,” she said. “I didn’t know anything about plumbing. I was completely out of my comfort zone. My first journeyman just had me stand at the bottom of the ladder and hand him tools all day. I really wanted to learn, so I spoke to my foreman and told him that I had been in the Army for six years and that I knew I was small, but I could handle the work, and if I needed help I would ask! He put me with another journeyman who has just been awesome. I’m learning so much. I’m constantly on a ladder hanging up pipe and hangars. My days fly by. I can carry a 10-foot, cast-iron pipe without a problem. A lot of guys on the job still try to help me. I reassure them that I’ll ask when I need help.” Because of her previous sentiments about school, Melissa laughed when asked how she liked the “school” aspect of the apprenticeship program. Career Opportunities in Piping for Transitioning Veterans | Spring/Summer 2018 13 Career Melissa Martinez (continued on page 14)