By Kate Knight
“I’ve always been interested in how things work and how they are made,” said Rosabella Wolosek, a 17-year-old female youth apprentice at Marten Machining in Stevens Point.
The SPASH senior has been working at the machine shop for about 18 months.
“I’ve always really liked math, physical science and chemistry classes,” Wolosek said. As a high school freshman, she registered for Project Lead the Way courses that aim to introduce students to fields in engineering.
These elective courses gave Wolosek the opportunity to explore the field inside the classroom. She continued to take more elective shop classes focusing on engineering throughout high school.
One day on a whim, Wolosek walked into the career center at SPASH, picked up information on job shadowing and learned what an apprenticeship was.
“I thought it would be cool so I applied, and after two interviews, got the job,” she said.
Now an apprentice at Marten Machining, Wolosek said she has learned “a little bit of everything.” Her job duties have included taking inventory, cleaning and washing parts, completing tasks on machines and helping design parts using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software.
When she began her apprenticeship, Wolosek did not know how to use any of the tools in the machine shop.
“I just started doing basic stuff, and I honestly learned something new every day even if it was just something little like how to organize things better to get more done during the day,” she said.
Wolosek is the only female who works in the shop area at Marten Machining.
“It’s mostly guys, and on a typical day I’ll just talk to guys,” she said. “When I first started, it was actually really intimidating because I was one of the youngest, the only girl, one of the shortest and one of the weakest, which kind of made it hard. The machines are pretty tall, so when you load parts onto the robot you have to be strong and tall to do it.”
Wolosek gradually adjusted to the new work environment and coworkers.
“I feel like I have a lot in common with guys, too – I’m not super girly,” she said. “I’ll joke around with them, and I’m used to it now.”
“People might be like, ‘oh you can’t do that, you’re a girl,’ and I don’t think it makes that much of a difference if you’re a girl or a guy and you do something,” Wolosek said. “I can do it just as good as you can.”
“If someone really likes what they are doing, they shouldn’t worry about being the only girl there.”
Wolosek said she has found a niche in her apprenticeship and, as with most jobs, learning more has helped her adjust.
“I feel like I stood out more, and now I blend in more,” she said. “Knowing what you’re doing makes it easier.”
“My favorite thing to do is design parts,” Wolosek said. “My boss helps and I create it on the computer. Once the design is done it gets machined.” Seeing the finished part makes her proud.
“It gets me excited,” Wolosek said. “I think that’s the coolest thing. When I started there’s no way I could see myself doing what I’m doing now, so I feel like I came very far from when I started. I didn’t know what anything was, and now I’m doing what machinists do.”
Wolosek advises high school students to explore career fields through classes, job shadowing and apprenticeships.
“It helps you narrow down what you want to do with your life – you’ll either like it or you won’t,” she said. “Having an apprenticeship really gave me better skills – communication skills, working with other people, being more organized when I do stuff and prioritizing. You’ll still get something out of it even if you don’t like it.”
Wolosek said she looks forward to attending college and focusing on a future career she will enjoy.
“I’m really excited to go to college and do more of what I like to do,” she said. “Having an apprenticeship really teaches you a lot. It’s definitely been an amazing experience, and it’s opened so many doors.”
Wolosek has been accepted at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, where she will study mechanical engineering next fall.
Marten Machining, which makes industrial machines and tools, has been in business since 1984. The company is located at 6800 Hillcrest Dr. in Stevens Point. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.martenmach.com.