Sometimes people just know from a young age what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Joel Piccone was one of those fortunate few. Ever since he was 10 years old, Joel would spend hours in the family garage building little projects. He helped his dad, who had a carpentry business on the side, and loved taking wood shop in school. "When I found out I could go to vocational school and take a building-trades course, I figured there was no better way to advance my learning," says Joel, who is now 22 years old. "I knew I was going to be a carpenter for the rest of my life. I figured it was a good way to make a living. I always heard that the carpenters union had great benefits, great pay, a pension and an annuity."
Joel went to vocational school to study the building trades as a high school junior in Franklinville, Gloucester County. He graduated in 1999 and went to work building houses through a school-to-career program. When he turned 18, Joel became an apprentice with Carpenters Local 393. He graduated this year to become a journeyman carpenter.
So far his chosen career has involved many different projects. Joel has done concrete work on local bridges, installed fixtures in a new JCPenney, handled metal stud and drywall at a grocery store and built roof trusses at an assisted living facility in West Deptford. "I would eventually like to work my way up," says Joel, who is planning to get married at the beginning of 2006. "The more knowledge I get, the more opportunities I'm going to have. You've got to take it one step at a time. Maybe first I'll become a foreman and then I'll become a superintendent."
Joel's advice to young people is to use their youth wisely, especially if they aren't as sure as he was about what they want to do with their lives. "If you have an interest in any trade, carpentry or not, you're still young enough to have the time to take the courses to learn how to do what you want to do and to know if that is the right choice for you." Knowledge is power.