A North Forsyth High School student is taking big steps toward his future career as an engineer.
Jason Stiteler, a junior, is the first student selected by PCL Industrial Construction Co. in south Forsyth for its Youth Apprenticeship program.
Bill Burns, human resources manager with PCL, said Stiteler was chosen from a pool of several engineering students at Forsyth County high schools who applied.
Through the program, Stiteler, who joined the company Nov. 5, will work part time through his remaining years at North, as well as his four years of college.
He’ll then have an opportunity to take on a full-time position with the company.
“When Jason graduates and goes off to college, we’ll go back to the high schools and hire another [student],” Burns said. “In theory, every two years, we hire a new one with the idea that at the end of that six-year period they’ll graduate with an engineering degree and come to work with us.
“The idea is to home-grow our own engineers, if you will.”
Stiteler said he’s excited about the opportunity since he’s known for many years he wanted to become an engineer.
“I’ve been interested in engineering since I was a little kid,” he said. “I think the interest first came to light in the third grade when there was a little engineering competition at the elementary school that I went to in Maryland.”
He and his two friends who entered the contest together ended up winning.
“So that’s where it was first like, ‘Hey, I’m good at this and it comes easily to me.’”
His father, Jeff Stiteler, said the opportunity is a great one.
“It’s expressed as an apprenticeship program, but that doesn’t do it justice when you think of the possibilities and the potential,” the elder Stiteler said. “This is so much more far reaching. It’s not just a job in high school to kind of get your feet wet and see if you want to do something. They’re actually grooming him to be an engineer of his choosing.”
Burns said the younger Stiteler will rotate through all the company’s departments during the program, learning about every facet of the industrial engineering business.
“We’re going to work him through a rotational assignment through the various departments,” he said. “So he’ll be getting a variety of different things … with the idea that after that time when he graduates [college] he’ll be a cut above the normal graduate because he’ll have five-and-a-half years of part-time work experience.”
Jason Stiteler said he’s proud to have the opportunity to work a part-time job that’s different from what most high school students have.
“Becoming a white collar worker at the age of 16 has been interesting,” he said. “I’ve got a cubicle, I have the business cards and the company e-mail address and that’s definitely not something that my friends have.
“Most of them are working at [fast food restaurants], flipping burgers or up at the outlet mall, so it’s definitely very different.”
After high school, he plans to attend North Georgia College & State University for two years and then transfer to Georgia Tech for a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
He said having a potential full-time job when he’s finished with school is a relief.
“Some people [in high school] don’t even know what they want to be when they grow up, but I already have that figured out, already have a path for my life, and it’s definitely one huge, huge burden lifted off my shoulders,” he said.