Wildly popular “How It’s Made” videos feature the intricate processes for crafting everything from donuts to musical instruments to luxury sports cars. If you ask Breeana Schmidt about her apprenticeship experience, she’ll tell you it’s like living inside one of those episodes.
As an apprentice at Fairystone Fabrics, Breeana’s eyes have been opened to the world of textile manufacturing. The company specializes in warp knitting, warping, and sueding, producing technical fabrics for numerous markets.
“I’ve most recently been working in the quality control area, running the scanning machine which looks for defects in any of our products,” Breeana said.
Soon, she will be moving to the preventative maintenance area and working with the machines that actually make the products.
Breeana had started on her associate’s degree while still in high school and figured she’d later transfer to a four-year college. She knew she was interested in STEM fields but had no concrete plans. She heard about the Career Accelerator Program via a phone message which piqued her interest.
The Career Accelerator Program offers registered youth apprenticeships at ten different companies in Alamance County, as well as tuition-free college classes.
“Free college sounded great,” she said.
The education she has received both at Alamance Community College and Fairystone Fabrics has been beyond what she could have received in a classroom alone.
“At Fairystone, it’s a hands-on approach to learning where I am able to make things I can see and interact with,” she explained. “It’s cool to understand that the products I have a hand in making are being used all around the country.”
Realizing that she has so much more to learn, Breeana is planning to stay on board at Fairystone after she completes the apprenticeship program in order to learn from her colleagues who are always willing to answer questions.
“I want to learn more about the electrical side of things at Fairystone,” she said. “I’m still interested in pursuing a four-year degree – maybe in engineering – but the apprenticeship program is helping me get a clearer picture of where I want to go.”
Her words of advice to other technically minded high school students: go for it.
“If you like to work with your hands, this is an opportunity you should definitely pursue.”