Dylon, 29, is from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Dylon and his family moved to Jacksonville, Florida, in January 2021. Just a few weeks later he enrolled at Tulsa Welding School in Jacksonville, and in late August 2021 he graduated from the seven-month Refrigeration Technologies program.
Thanks for sharing your story, Dylon. Tell us why you brought your family to Florida.
We just decided to make a move and try something different. The US Virgin Islands is a US territory, so we didn’t need visas or anything, just a passport. We have some family here in Jacksonville.
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What did you do for a living down in the Virgin Islands?
I was a butcher, I cut meat for eight or nine years down there. I also worked as a butcher for Winn-Dixie while I went to Tulsa Welding School; I quit when I got my job after graduation.
When, and why, did you decide to come to Tulsa Welding School?
I didn’t intend to go to a trade school when I first came here in January. But a few weeks later my brother recommended I take a look at TWS. He has lived up here for a while and knew about Tulsa from the commercials. He said having a trade would lead to a good job. I thought about it, signed up, and here I am.
What made you decide on HVAC, as opposed to another trade?
I wanted to pick up a trade so I could do something different, and here in Florida everybody wants their A/C fixed! There aren’t that many people certified in HVAC compared to other trades. I thought I’d take the opportunity to do the seven-month HVAC class to learn everything I could.
What did you enjoy most about your time at Tulsa Welding School?
I really enjoyed all the hands-on experience it gave me. We did electricity, solar, refrigeration, a/c systems, so I got hands-on experience with almost everything. The instructors went over all the information we needed every day to make sure it got into our heads.
Did you have any practical electrical experience before?
A little. When I was in high school, I took a vocational class in electricity.
How did you find the RT program? Was it easy, hard, frustrating?
It was good. I did have days when I was up and down. But overall, I liked the experience very much; it taught me a lot of stuff that I didn’t know. It’s important to listen to what they tell you. You have to be careful with HVAC; you have to be focused and pay attention to what you’re doing. You can lose a hand, an eye; the refrigerant can burn you.
Very true. So, where are you working now?
I’m working for Paul Davis Restoration in Jacksonville. I started at the beginning of November. It’s in the same field, but I’m also dealing with mold, fire, and water. I’m getting certified in different things; in fact, I just passed my mold test and got my certification last week. I want to do a little of everything; I want to be versatile; kind of a universal, all-around tradesperson, you know? So, instead of just doing HVAC, I’m doing the whole nine yards. There are a lot of opportunities to grow here.
How did you get the job?
Tanya from Career Services kept in touch, letting me know what opportunities were coming up. She told me that someone from Paul Davis Restoration was coming to the TWS campus, and she got me the interview. That’s all it took.
Would you have got this job without your certification from Tulsa?
I don’t think so. It was a plus that I had my HVAC certification from TWS. It’s an all-around job; today I could be doing a mold mitigation job, but tomorrow I could be doing HVAC. It all depends on the jobs that come in the door.
Are you enjoying the job, the company?
I’m happy where I’m at because I’m always looking for opportunities to grow and learn new things. I’m a hands-on guy doing hands-on work. I don’t like to be deep in books or be at a desk in front of a computer. This is a good job for me because I get to be in the field doing hands-on stuff every day. It makes me feel good, and motivated to go to work!
Are you happy with the money you’ve started on?
Yes, I’m happy right now. The money is good, and they offer all the usual benefits. I can’t really complain, but I could always go up some more! It’s the start of a new career. It’s a nationwide company, so there are a lot of opportunities to grow here.
What’s the schedule like? Is it family friendly?
It is, I work Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm. I have most weekends off, but sometimes I’m on call because it is a 24/7 company.
What’s your career plan from here?
This could be a career job. I was looking for a stable company, so I wouldn’t have to move around much. This is a good company, so I’m happy to ride with them for a while. But really and truly, I’d like to open my own business one day doing HVAC and restoration, so that’s why I’m trying to get all the knowledge I need. One day I’d really like to do my own thing.
What do you enjoy most about your new trade?
I enjoy almost everything! Every day is a learning process, every day I learn something new. I enjoy that.
What advice would you give to students considering Tulsa Welding School?
Stay focused and give it your full force, 100%. Pay attention, listen to what the instructors tell you, and learn everything you can. On the Refrigeration Technologies program, they will teach you about electricity, solar, refrigeration, and comfort systems – the whole works. So, it’s up to you to take it all in and run with it from there. It’s a good foundation to build a career on. That’s my advice because I did it and so far, I’m good, I’m successful. If I can do it, you can do it.
If you’re a TWS graduate and would like to share your success and be an inspiration to others, please email [email protected] to be considered for a Graduate Connection interview. Please include details such as your graduation date (month/year), program, and campus name (Tulsa/Jacksonville/Houston).