Stanley, NC | January 2018

Creating a career

The Kwiatkowski Brothers took two different paths out of high school - both led back to Blum.

After graduating high school in 2012, Nicholas Kwiatkowski decided not to further his education in fear of piling up student debt. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do, so he managed an Italian restaurant for six years after graduating. Nick gave his younger brother Lukas a job at the restaurant, not knowing that later Lukas would give him a career.

Lukas joined the Apprenticeship 2000 program right out of high school, which is the typical entry point for apprentices. After learning more about Blum from his brother, Nick quickly became interested in a position. After applying three different times, and with the help of Lukas, Nick was hired on as a press operator for Blum, where he quickly worked his way up to a team leader position.

Apprenticeship 2000 is not just for high school students

With no post-high school education, Nick felt his options for further advancement were limited. But to Nick's advantage, the ability to apply to the Apprenticeship 2000 program is open to any employee that has been employed for at least a year. One year after his brother Lukas completed his apprenticeship at Blum, Nick was accepted to the program.

Apprenticeship 2000 was formed by Blum in 1995 to offer technical career opportunities to highly motivated high school students and guarantees them employement after graduation. Not only does the program pay for students to receive their associates degree in mechatronics from Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC), they also pay students for the hands-on training they receive at one of the five partnership locations.

Telling their story

During the fall of 2017, the Lumina Foundation, an independent, private organization that is dedicated to the success of students beyond high school, learned about the Kwiatkowski brothers after reaching out to CPCC. The foundation, based in Indianapolis, wanted to highlight students who were employed full-time while attending college.

Nick agreed to help The Lumina Foundation tell the story that Blum apprentices are creating a career, not taking on a job. Lumina highlighed Nick's daily life from home to work and school in a format that could reach millions.