After serving for six years in the US Army, four years active duty and two years in the National Guard, Joshua Barron was struggling to figure out which career path to pursue. He spent several years trying a variety of jobs – in customer service, sales, and retail – before he found his calling in manufacturing.

“When I separated from the military, it was difficult,” said Joshua. “I went from having a lot of structure to having none. I missed being part of a team, having that close togetherness. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do yet, and it was unsettling and stressful. I was trying to different things to see what I was good at and what I liked, and then I found manufacturing.”

Joshua started working at Krones, a company that produces equipment and technology for the food and beverage industry. At the time, he was interested in completing a formal training in machining, but he wasn’t aware of any existing programs. Five years later, his boss told him about the ICATT Apprenticeship Program.

“I was considering going to night school to learn more about machining, but my boss saw ICATT as an opportunity,” he said. “He told me, ‘We have this program we’re looking at; would you be interested in if it involves going back to school?’ And that was exactly what I was looking for.”

Joshua is now in his second year of the apprenticeship program, sponsored by Krones. As a veteran, he was able to apply some of his Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits toward the ICATT Apprenticeship Program, as well as many of the skills he developed in the Army, like discipline, attention to detail, and integrity.

“It’s a learning curve, going to go to school again at 36 years old, and it takes adjustment and dedication,” said Joshua. “But it’s really exciting. I feel like a professional, and I’m confident in the things that I have learned. This is really valuable in the long term, and it will open so many doors for me in the future.”

Joshua said he would absolutely recommend ICATT to other veterans who are looking for a supportive work environment where they have opportunities to learn new skills and develop a high-demand career.

“I wish I would have known about apprenticeship programs when I got out of the military,” he said. “For anyone similar to me, ICATT would be a good fit. The things I have experienced in my apprenticeship remind me of the close-knit ‘brotherhood’ that you find in the military. You have the opportunity to learn and grow. The sky is the limit with this career.”

Learn more about the ICATT Apprenticeship Program.