By Linda Schmid
Meet Aaron Aumick. He’s a worker. In fact, he is so busy working all the time that we almost didn’t connect for an interview. But, luckily, he made time to talk to me so you can meet him, too.
Aumick was introduced to work at an early age. Both his father and grandfather practiced carpentry in their spare time, after the workday was done. Aumick enjoys it, working with his hands and creating buildings. “I like the sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when you see what you’ve done.”
After high school, Aumick enrolled in college, but he didn’t have a lot of funds. He found the mikeroweWORKS Scholarship Foundation fund online and decided to apply. I asked him if it was hard to apply; were there a lot of hoops to jump through? He said no. He mainly had to create a video about community service he had performed in his hometown.
What kind of community service did he do as a kid? Plenty. He worked his way up to Eagle Scout which requires community service. His Eagle Scout project was to create a Veteran’s Memorial in the park. He built forms, poured concrete, drilled it out and placed the plaques. He also served as a volunteer firefighter and EMT, more work that Aumick found satisfying.
“Creating the video and completing the requirements was just enough to show the Foundation that an applicant was willing to do what was needed to acquire what they want. But it wasn’t too much,” he said. “It wasn’t like some scholarship applications that require a 600-page paper. Some people just aren’t cut out for that; people who go into carpentry would rather be outside.”
Another requirement of receiving the scholarship was taking the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge. That is: the Skill & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo pledge. It’s not for the faint of heart, but taking the pledge was nothing for Aumick to sweat about; “That’s every day of my life,” he said.
The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge
The pledge that Aaron and every scholarship winner takes is as follows:
1. I believe that I have won the greatest lottery of all time. I am alive. I walk the Earth. I live in America. Above all things, I am grateful.
2. I believe that I am entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more. I also understand that “happiness” and the “pursuit of happiness” are not the same thing.
3. I believe there is no such thing as a “bad job.” I believe that all jobs are opportunities, and it’s up to me to make the best of them.
4. I do not “follow my passion.” I bring it with me. I believe that any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm.
5. I deplore debt and do all I can to avoid it. I would rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow money to pay for a lifestyle I cannot afford.
6. I believe that my safety is my responsibility. I understand that being “in compliance” does not necessarily mean I’m out of danger.
7. I believe the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late, and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is.
8. I believe the most annoying sounds in the world are whining and complaining. I will never make them. If I am unhappy in my work, I will either find a new job or find a way to be happy.
9. I believe that my education is my responsibility and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never stop learning and understand that library cards are free.
10. I believe that I am a product of my choices –not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone for my shortcomings or the challenges I face. And I will never accept the credit for something I didn’t do.
11. I understand the world is not fair, and I’m OK with that. I do not resent the success of others.
12. I believe that all people are created equal. I also believe that all people make choices. Some choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose to work my butt off.
Aumick made good on his pledge; he graduated from Alfred
State College of Technology with a 4.0 GPA and he earned the Dean’s Award for Excellence.
Hard Worker And Hero
These days, Aumick continues to prove that he believes in the pledge. He has become a full-time firefighter; it was his childhood dream to do so. On his days off, though, in fact every day off, he still pursues carpentry. When asked why, he said he was brought up that way; he always has to be doing something productive because that’s what his parents taught him. “They were always pushing for me to be doing something constructive, not to be lazy, sitting around on my butt. That’s why it is hard at the end of the day to sit down. I think there must be something else that needs to be done,” he said.
Experience in construction is helpful for a firefighter, he said. He can often predict what is behind a wall which is a big advantage when working in a building he doesn’t know.
Aumick is currently in negotiations to buy into Thinkco, the business that he works with on his off-days. He still refers to it as his hobby, not because he doesn’t take it seriously, but because he enjoys it so much. However, they have work throughout the state of South Carolina and 99% is through word of mouth; they must be doing something right.
“I want to get it right the first time. I don’t want to have to come back and fix anything. We want to be a reliable company,” he said.
I asked what kind of talent it takes to be that kind of company. “Talent?” Aumick asked. “Anybody is capable with the right education. You are capable if your head is in the right space and you are motivated to do it. It’s skill more than talent.”
In The Future
Aumick has no children, but he would be glad to have his future children enter the trades. “There are shortages there,” he said. “There is always something that needs to be done, instead of paying $300,000 for an education that may never get you a job.” He hopes his children will have similar experiences and expectations as he has had.
His advice for young people is this: “Find something you want to do, something that you can feel proud of and show your kids some day. Find motivation and enjoy your work while enjoying a good way of life. Don’t feel that college is your only option.” RB
As a result of a collaboration with mikeroweWORKS Foundation (www.mikeroweworks.org), Rural Builder is featuring profiles of Work Ethic Scholarship recipients in each of its issues. Hundreds of scholarships have been awarded to trade-school students who value hard work and taking personal responsibility. Rural Builder applauds these students and wants to acknowledge their choice to apply their talents to skilled trades. Thank you, mikeroweWORKS Foundation, for your continuing efforts to close the skills gap and “reconnect the average American with the value of a skilled workforce.”