Andrew Peklinsky graduated from Penn Commercial Business/Technical School in March 2016. He completed the Computer Drafting and Design (CAD) program, graduating with his associate’s in specialized technology. As is for most people, Andrew’s career trajectory did not exactly turn out as planned. “Due to some health injuries, the best thing to do was to go back to school for CAD for an office-type job. My dad’s a contractor, so it’s what I did in the summertime, building houses. I grew up in that field.”
Prior to Penn Commercial, Andrew completed his bachelor’s degree in advertising and journalism from West Virginia University in 2005. Right out of school he began working for a few smaller companies, such as 84 Lumber, in sales. For a while, he also worked in manufacturing for a plastic company. It was at this point he suffered from health injuries and had to re-evaluate his plans for the future. Keeping in mind his family background, that he was an older student, and that he wanted a shorter program, he began searching for schools with Auto CAD programs. Penn Commercial came up in his search. He had driven past the school multiple times, it was close to home and “they weren’t the community college-type school that everyone else I went to high school with went to.” He found his match.
His experience at Penn Commercial was exactly as he hoped. He started classes in October 2014 and just had his first child, Gracie, in February 2014. So not only did he need a great program, he needed to be able to successfully juggle everything all at once. Also, Andrew explained that “My experience was good. It was nice overall. They had activities for people who never went to a four-year school to experience that socialization,” and, most importantly, “I wanted to have my picking of the jobs I wanted to do.” The curriculum definitely prepared him to be marketable in the field. “Auto CAD classes were my favorite. They were what I was going to school for and something I enjoyed.” Interestingly enough, another one of his favorite classes was not part of his major. There was a life skills course, just one hour a week. The Washington County Commissioner actually came in and taught students life skills in general, how to save money, having emergency funds, and the like.
Once Andrew graduated, he obtained a position at Lighthouse Electric Company, Inc. as a virtual construction design specialist, where he still works today. Lighthouse Electric came to Penn Commercial to tell students about the company and what they do. “I turned around and told them I was interested and it was game over. They said that I was the only person they’ve ever seen stand up and say I’m interested.” Making a strong professional impression is definitely something Penn Commercial teaches to their students. “The class that actually taught you the professional development of it – how to shake hands properly, ask the right questions, interviewing – was one of the best classes I’ve ever had here. They got you ready to go out to the job. They wanted to make sure you got that job”.
In regards to his current responsibilities at Lighthouse Electric, Andrew explained, “My main job is to draft treatment models of electrical equipment parts for commercial buildings. Everything that has anything to do with electrical application. We draw every little piece of it and we put it into a 3D model. We coordinate with the other trades and make sure it all fits together in the building and that I’m not running a pipe through someone else’s pipe.” Much of his interaction is with the electricians in the field, being able to answer contract and general construction questions regarding locations or issues. “If we have an issue, they will call me and I can look into the 3D model and see if I can come up with a solution without actually being in the field, being their back support”.
According to Andrew, the best thing about his new career is the people he works with. “They’re the absolute best. They mesh with my lifestyle, love to do everything I like. Going to work, for the first time, is not going to work. Some days are tough, but you step away from that and talk about fishing, hunting or dirt bike riding. But, when it comes down to crunch time, everyone is there to help you. That’s the best thing.” Unfortunately his experiences prior to Penn Commercial were not as positive. “Before I was working shift work. I hated my job. I came home and wanted to go straight to bed. Some days I actually called off work because I just didn’t want to go.” Thankfully, things have turned around. Andrew and his wife welcomed another baby, Bentley, who is now seven months old. Andrew says Gracie, who is now three years old, is a wonderful big sister, always ready to give Bentley his blanket or pacifier if he starts crying. “Now I get home from work, play with the kids, take the dogs on a walk. It’s enjoyable now. I’m not miserable anymore.”
Looking to the future, Andrew hopes to “move up the ladder. Eventually take on a managerial role or have a little more responsibility.” In regards to his family, he wants to “keep providing a great home and everything for my kids.” He enjoyed his time at Penn Commercial so much so that he has been telling both his brother and wife to go there, noting that Penn offers so many different programs. Also, he likes how the classes concentrate on one particular program, so students do not have to take a great deal of general education classes. “They are all relevant to the field. There’s always something for everyone.” His final words of wisdom are a simple recipe for success, “Go to class. Do your homework.”