Michael McDonald has a love for teaching and working with learners young and old.
“I’ve always been interested in not just higher education, but education in general,” said McDonald, who has worked as the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin education coordinator since 2015. “It’s something I’ve always been adjacent to.”
With a degree in economics from Carthage College, a career in the construction field wasn’t always his plan.
“I kind of tripped over backwards into this job and I’m glad I did,” McDonald said. “I have found it really rewarding, which translates into a passion.”
He spent the first summer after college in AmeriCorps working with elementary-age programming. He then became a substitute teacher and considered returning to school to get his teaching license until the ABC position crossed his path.
“I really haven’t looked back since,” he said.
In his current role, McDonald works as something of a guidance counselor for more than 300 apprentices from around the state, training in 12 different trades.
“He’s the one that’s keeping the programs running behind the scenes,” said Leigh Emrick, ABC apprenticeship director. “He does great things, and this is only the beginning for Michael.”
He may be the first person a future apprentice talks to about submitting applications and one of the last hands that apprentice shakes as they walk across the stage at graduation.
“He is also somebody that will never bat an eye at going above and beyond – whether it’s for an apprentice, whether it’s in the office – he is the first person to volunteer,” Emrick said. “He puts his own time aside to help.”
These apprentices come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences but share a common goal of bettering their lives by furthering their understanding and careers. And McDonald is contributing to that goal.
“I see applicants come in who are not sure if this is the right career for them,” McDonald said. “I see them grow into it and I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.”
Looking forward, he is enthusiastic about continuing on current path at ABC.
“I’d like to continue to grow apprenticeships and grow the trades that we offer and just keep making ABC a success,” he said.