Speed to Market
Ryan Geiger found his debt-free fast pass to a great career while in high school.
Even as a high school student, Brillion native Ryan Geiger knew that hands-on learning would be his ticket to success. On the advice of a teacher, he enrolled in Fox Valley Technical College’s dual credit Machine Tool Technician program while attending Brillion High School.
“Thanks to Fox Valley Tech, I graduated high school with three college credits and a job as a tool and die apprentice technician,” he says. “I was able to make money while going to the Tech, and I paid very little for tuition.”
Today, at age 24, Geiger is a tool and die journeyman for Ariens Company, a leading manufacturer of outdoor power equipment. “I make dies that form the steel you see on lawnmowers and snow blowers,” he says. “It’s amazing to see new products knowing that you had a part in how they look.”
While FVTC helped Geiger quickly launch his career, he admits the days were long. “I started school at 6:15 in the morning and then worked at Ariens in the afternoon,” he recalls. “I’m still going to the Tech, pursuing an associate degree in Mechanical Design Technology, albeit at a slower pace.”
Geiger thinks he got the best of both worlds. “Apprenticeships are great because you get paid to go to school while riding a fast track to a career,” he says. “Plus, FVTC instructors have worked in industry. You cannot get their professional knowledge from textbooks.”
Geiger emphasizes there is a real need for trade specialists like machinists. “So many experts are retiring, and there aren’t a lot of qualified people to replace them,” he notes. “There are incredible opportunities for people with the right skills, and you can earn an education for next to nothing while rapidly hitting the workforce.”