As a career and technical education student at Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, Deshon Williams learned a lot about the individual aspects of his future trade. When he signed up for Urban Alliance’s High School Internship Program for CTE students, however, he was able to see how his electrician skills fit within a larger framework, and learned the true meaning of teamwork.
“It is not simple as it was working in the trades classroom, there is so much more things that you have to focus on especially because this is not just your trade. You have five people and ten other trades working in one building all at the same time,” Deshon said. “It taught me that when it comes to working together, it’s not just the one person, it is not just the lead instrument, it’s the whole entire orchestra – but it’s all together to make one sound, to make one music, one song.”
Working at Dustin Construction, Deshon got to see the entire symphony of work that contributes to the construction of just one building, and came to appreciate not only the contributions of his teammates, but also how much he still had to learn – and the value of that knowledge. His mentor, Amy, gave him the opportunity and space to learn new skills first on his own, then offered help when needed. “The most important thing that she taught me is no matter how hard it might get, no matter how difficult it might be,” Deshon said, “as long as you have the patience to go through it and to keep trying, that’s the only thing that mattered the most. You should give your best 100% of the time.”
Deshon took this experience to heart, and he is now paying it forward by getting the next generation excited to learn. To save up money before becoming a certified electrician, Deshon is working with pre-K students as a Leading Men Fellow at The Literacy Lab. He is now able to provide the same mentoring he received to the next generation and teach them the lessons UA taught him.
“UA being able to be in high schools to be able to help teenagers have something for their lives so that they can be proud of their family and want to make sure that there are financially stable – it just shows that people can actually do good when they want to,” said Deshon. “This program has really changed my entire future because it gave me the right mindset to go into the working world in search of a career, and whatever I do for my future I know that UA can help me … this was a once in a lifetime chance that I am glad I took.”