KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WFRV) — High schoolers interested in the pipe trades visited the UA 400 training center Monday to learn more about an apprenticeship program they can begin before graduation.

“They get to leave school early, get a paycheck in their hand, work for a signatory contractor, and receive training at Local 400 while they’re in high school,” DJ Kloida, Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator said.

The paid apprenticeship program allows students to gain experience and learn about the field.

“I was able to dig into it and figure out what I wanted to do before I even graduated high school,” Maddy Dejardin, a first-year Steamfitter Construction Apprentice.

She told Local 5 that managing school and the apprenticeship program was a balancing act.

“At the end of the semester I’d always take a couple days off of work so I could go to the library and study a little bit more and make sure I do really good,” she said.

Dejardin made it work, and now she’s in her first year of a five-year apprenticeship program.

“It’s pretty much like you get to start into your career before you even graduate,” she explained.

To learn more about the youth apprenticeship program, click here.