Workforce Wednesday: Metallica Scholar Marisa Kiliszewski discovers a career in welding she hopes to do ‘forever’

Marisa Kiliszewski welding.

Marisa Kiliszewski graduated from high school in 2020, right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a difficult time to try to figure out what I wanted to do with my future. I didn’t love school, so I got a job and hated it,” she said.

GRCC Workforce Training programs provide in-demand skills leading to rewarding careers. We are introducing students who are heading down an educational pathway and changing their lives by earning occupational certificates.

“My dad told me about the Metallica welding program a few years ago, so when I saw that there was a new session coming up, I signed up right away,” Kiliszewski said.

The GRCC Metallica Scholars Welding Bootcamp offers individuals the opportunity to gain skills for entry level welding positions.  It is a short-term program to get welders work in West Michigan, with the goal of helping these individuals grow into apprenticeships or other learning opportunities within the welding field.

The program is a partnership with GRCC, the legendary band Metallica, it’s All Within My Hands foundation, and the American Association of Community Colleges.

“This have been a great experience for me,” Kiliszewski said. “I feel pretty fortunate to have gotten in right away. I always thought the trades were cool because that is what my dad does but I didn’t really think that I would go into one. Now that I’m in it, I love it, it’s great!”

The program goal is to build an accessible pathway into the field of welding with a focus on producing ready-to-work welders for Kent County companies. This program works to attract, retain, and graduate individuals of different genders and racial/ethnic backgrounds to welding careers.

“The education and training part are not as bad as I thought it would be, in fact, it’s pretty good!” she said. “The instructors, Nick Pinkney and Brittany Todd, were really great. I came into the program knowing literally nothing about welding. I didn’t even know that there are different types of welding.

“The best part about welding is that it is fun! I get to do things with my hands. I can just go off into my own little world and burn wire.”

Kiliszewski is now excited for her future and is already interviewing for welding jobs.

“I’m looking to get into a job where I can get some time under the hood and keep working on my craft. I plan to join the pipefitters union, because that is really what I hope to do forever. I will probably come to GRCC for more classes. The instructors are super cool.”

Kiliszewski is hoping to work for a company that will offer an apprenticeship or cover the cost of more training and education.

“I’ve listened to Metallica my whole life and I’ve even seen them in concert! If I could say anything to Metallica, I would say, ‘You guys rock! This program is awesome. I’m so glad you are doing this! Thanks!’”

To qualify for the program, participants must be 18 years of age, have a high school diploma/GED, and be able to work in the United States. For more information go to grcc.edu/metallica.

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