Building His Own Career
Patrick Volkmann’s love of woodworking and drive to finish school created a unique educational journey.
Patrick Volkmann of Oshkosh discovered his fascination for woodworking in seventh grade, when he took his first woodworking class. Now, at the age of 18, he has already turned his passion for building furniture into a career.
“I took every possible woodworking course that I could get my hands on from seventh grade through tenth grade,” Patrick explains. “When there were no more options at Oshkosh West, I thought I’d get an apprenticeship my senior year of high school.”
But as that last year approached, Patrick still had two high school credits to complete and no apprenticeship lined up. With help from his mom, as well as an Oshkosh West counselor and an FVTC advisor, Patrick was able to dual enroll and start the program at FVTC. He spent his senior year at the S.J. Spanbauer Center in Oshkosh working toward a technical diploma, which also satisfied his two final high school credits.
In June, he graduated from Oshkosh West High School. In August, he graduated from FVTC’s Wood Manufacturing Technology program.
“Getting the technical diploma is more than what I planned to do after high school,” Patrick explains. “But the program led me to many opportunities and I had a job at Black Wolf Design in Omro before I graduated."
“I think the program is great for anyone who has even a slight interest in woodworking. The instructors each have different skill sets so you get their expertise in different areas."
Patrick’s greatest joy in his new profession is the idea of taking a piece of wood that came straight from the saw mill, so rough you can’t even see the grain, and creating a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture.
“Having a customer say they can’t find what they want and asking me if I can make it, that’s a great challenge,” Patrick says. “I have to think about the process and how I’m going to build it. Then, knowing what I made for the customer could stay in their home for generations, that’s exciting.”
The secondary wood processing industry accounts for 40,000 jobs in the state of Wisconsin.
FVTC’s Wood Manufacturing Technology program typically places 100% of its graduates in positions like project manager, cabinet maker, millwork fabricator and aircraft interior fabricator.