Andrew Thayer, Chippewa Valley Technical College

Andrew Thayer, 30, of Altoona, tried a few different jobs and a couple different Chippewa Valley Technical College programs before landing on IT Software Development. In his second semester, he’s working as a Student Ambassador at CVTC while making his way through the program. 

Andrew Thayer wants people like him to know that returning to college or starting their higher education journey later in life is worth it.

“Not everyone knows what they want to do right out of high school,” he said. “Or maybe they decide later that they’re no longer fulfilled in their current career.”

The 30-year-old Altoona man is still trying to find the profession that’s right for him. His career has taken twists and turns, and he hasn’t blinked an eye. He said he’s lucky to have Chippewa Valley Technical College in his backyard so he can continue to vet programs that speak to him.

“I am enrolled in the IT software development program. So far, I’m loving it, and from what I can tell, the next few semesters are going to be even more interesting,” he said. “I’m genuinely looking forward to what’s in store for next year.”

But this isn’t the beginning of Thayer’s story. His higher education journey began 12 years ago when he graduated from Altoona High School.

Back then, he started the IT network specialist program at CVTC, but he said the program wasn’t a good fit. He entered the workforce after finishing his first semester. He worked in a few different roles – mainly in customer service.

After a few years, Thayer’s dad encouraged him to return to school. They attended a career fair at CVTC and browsed the different programs where Thayer was drawn to welding.

Andrew Thayer, Chippewa Valley Technical College

Andrew Thayer, 30, of Altoona, tried a few different jobs and a couple different Chippewa Valley Technical College programs before landing on IT Software Development. In his second semester, he’s working as a Student Ambassador at CVTC while making his way through the program. 

“If there was one thing I was certain of at the time, it was that I wanted a career that was different from what I’d been doing,” he said. “I still remember the booth displaying information on the welding program. They were showcasing the work of current program students, gorgeous weldments, videos of nimble robots programmed by the students perfectly performing their tasks … I was sold.

“It was new, exciting and challenging.”

Thayer graduated from the welding and metal fabrication programs with honors. But the entire time he was going to school for welding, he was working as a butcher. He was asked a few times to quit school and join the team full-time. After graduation, he obliged and worked in the meat industry for four years.

“Maybe it was my comfort zone keeping me there,” he reflected. “While I never pursued a job with what I learned in the welding program, I’d never view the time I spent as wasteful. Not only did I learn a trade, but I also learned how to grow.”

After more time and consideration, he couldn’t see himself working in welding or the meat industry until retirement, he said.

Throughout his years of learning and working, Thayer realized he enjoyed technology and the programming of welding robots – something he was able to study during his previous stints at college.

“I turned my attention back to CVTC, and here we are again – a new opportunity to learn,” he said.

So far, Thayer appreciates the IT software development program at CVTC. He knows that a career in IT has many possibilities. And his third time back to CVTC continues to fulfill his needs as a student.

“A good school should support students no matter their age or previous college education,” he said. “I’m glad I found one that I can trust and rely on to help me achieve the goals I’ve set for myself.”

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