Carpentry Student Lines Up Job in National Defense
September 7, 2022
Hadley Gonzalez is “building freedom”.
At least that is what her intern cohort in General Dynamic Electric Boat’s Summer High School Intern Program (SHIP) would repeat at the start and end of each work day. Electric Boat designs, constructs and provides support to submarines for the U.S. Navy.
Gonzalez, a grade 12 carpentry student at Cheney Technical High School, located in Manchester, CT, took part in the 8-week SHIP this past summer. The program is aimed at cultivating a strong pipeline for future talent in the trades.
Gonzalez originally enrolled at Cheney Tech for the culinary program, but fell in love with carpentry.
“I could see myself being here [in carpentry] for 4 years and not regretting my decision of which shop I chose,” she said. “I knew I could easily be successful with this trade and get many good job opportunities.”
She was right. Electric Boat is holding a full-time carpentry job for Gonzalez upon her graduation from Cheney Tech in June 2023.
“Initially I was unsure of the internship opportunity…I wondered what carpenters do for submarines,” she said.
Gonzalez quickly learned there is significant carpentry work to be done.
“Without carpenters, you can’t start building a submarine,” she said, referring to constructing the scaffolding that allows other tradespeople to work at various height levels.
Other tasks included tiling and soundproofing.
Gonzalez says Cheney Tech prepared her well for the internship, having been exposed to similar construction scenarios at school and then being able to apply her knowledge on the submarine. Specifically, she said her safety training and knowledge of tools were helpful.
“My training at Cheney Tech, even though it’s all woodworking, helped me [at Electric Boat] even though it’s a completely different environment.”
Soundproofing was an unfamiliar job for Gonzalez, but one that she came to take very seriously.
“Everything needs to be lined up perfectly so there is no sound as the submarine is moving through the water,” she explained. “It has to be perfect…if we send those submarines out in the water and there is one mistake and people get hurt, that’s on me.”
Mentors play a large role in the internship and Gonzalez was grateful for hers.
“They didn’t see me as a woman doing a man’s job, they saw me as someone doing a job,” she said.
Her advice to other technical high school students is to “go for it”. She says to get the experience and take chances to improve your future job prospects.
“I want to go to work and enjoy what I’m doing, and I want to do some hands-on work,” she said.
To learn more about the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System’s Carpentry program visit cttech.org/carpentry.