Welcome back to the third part of the series. If you haven't read the previous blogs about PPE & tools for the first-time welding student, or tools you can find those below:
In this feature, we are going to spend some time covering best practices for student success when attending welding school.
Before diving into the "secret sauce" for welding school success, it is important to note that welding education programs are much different from traditional studies, but still share many commonalities for student success. Also, requirements outlined in the welding program you are enrolled in may deviate from the best practices outlined here, always feel free to modify and follow any resources from the institution or instructor first.
Part 3: The "Secret Sauce"
Welding school requires a unique balance of learning within the classroom and shop environment. Whether you are studying how to interpret welding symbols or behind the lens perfecting an uphill fillet weld with E7018, the challenges you face during your education often require a few key "ingredients" to achieve the perfect recipe for success. What are the key "ingredients" that translate into success? Glad you asked.
Attitude is everything. If you want to succeed in school and your career, maintaining the right attitude is essential. Nearly all successful welders have one thing in common- they love everything about welding! Being positive and always striving to push yourself a little more every day to perfect your skills and knowledge of welding is an unbeatable approach for success in school and beyond. Throughout your education, you will build confidence and passion for the craft, and this can only happen with a positive attitude. No doubt, tough days will be encountered, however those that are cut out to make it as a welder will always strive to achieve success. Just remember a poor attitude is easily spotted by others, especially your instructor.
Attendance & Time Management
Learning the welding process requires "Arc Time" or otherwise logged hours of hands-on welding practice aimed to perfect welding techniques. If you are not in class, you can't put in the necessary time under the hood that is needed for learning how to control that weld puddle. If your end goal is a successful career welding, soaking up all the time you can in the shop with your instructor will be well worth it in the end. Make sure that you utilize your class time wisely, show up early or on time, and do yourself a favor and put your phone away and weld! Understandably all kinds of unexpected situations occur in life. If you are going to be absent/late from class, it's always best to keep your instructor informed.
Communication & Criticism
Welding can be very difficult to learn and requires plenty of time in the shop, guidance, and insight from your instructor, and of course, a good amount of patience to learn the necessary skills. While learning how to weld, it is important to always communicate with your instructor frequently and openly about any difficulties, challenges, successes, or technical questions related to welding. It's also useful to dialogue with other students. Sometimes they may be able to share a tip or two when needed. But, be careful as this can quickly turn into what some call "the blind leading the blind." Understand that your instructor will also be providing you with constructive criticism to help you hone your skills and perfect your welds; therefore, he or she should always be the first point of contact when possible.
Work Ethic & Safety
I can tell you that learning how to weld is a never-ending journey. In fact you will continue honing your welding skills long after welding school and throughout your career. Having a strong work ethic and sound safety practices provide an excellent foundation for success. Exhibiting a solid work ethic and practicing safe work habits has many benefits, but most of all, employers are always looking for future employees that possess these traits. Building that hard-worker reputation and safety mindset during school will surely reap rewards throughout school and your career.
Extracurriculars & Networking
Taking advantage of learning opportunities beyond the requirements of your courses should not be overlooked while in welding school. Participating in a welding club, a welding competition, SkillsUSA, or even a co-op program can give access to unique opportunities and exposure to welding that may be limited during your time in school. Broadening your skills and knowledge through these types of extracurriculars are excellent avenues for networking as well. Even today, landing that first job or a new career opportunity often is shared largely through word of mouth, especially in the trades. Speaking from experience, the folks you befriend and build relationships with are often the key that leads you to a new door of opportunity.
The path throughout welding school is much like many other endeavors you have faced or will pursue in life. Your welding journey may challenge you in ways that are outside of your abilities and comforts. Having a realistic approach to outcomes and goals alongside the consequences of your actions is very important- to not only measure your success but to also help in maintaining the right approach to overcome and succeed. When the time comes to enter the workforce, understand there is always going to be a starting point and from there the sky is the limit!
As with any recipe, always feel free to make changes to ingredients, either adding or taking away as needed. Tailoring your very own "secret sauce" with the ingredients of your liking will surely result in a successful and enjoyable journey throughout your time in welding school. I wish you the best of luck with your education and future endeavors. To search for welding schools in your area, be sure to check out the Welding School Locator tool.