Ben Dellinger started out in the music department at Lee University in Tennessee. But after a year of taking classes without a clear goal, he switched to Greenville Technical College and enrolled in the Building Construction Technology program, a major he chose based on summer work in construction.
As Dellinger completed his classes, he knew that he was studying for a bigger purpose - a career that presents great opportunities with the Upstate's building boom. Dellinger is currently working at Stock Building Supply and says he had little trouble finding a job when he graduated.
Along with building skills, Dellinger said the Building Construction program taught him a lot about interacting with people. "You got to meet different people of different ages whereas at a four-year college, it's based on that 18 to 25-year-old range. You not only learned building skills, you learned some additional people skills because you're involved with anybody from the age of 18 up to 60."
His bachelor's degree education had seemed undefined while the associate degree was focused. "At the four-year school, I felt like I was a body in a classroom. I didn't have any direct insight as to what I wanted to do when and if I graduated," he said. "Classes at Greenville Tech were more interesting. I felt like I was actually achieving something."
One day, Dean Phillips had a 19-year career in textiles with plans to stay with his company until retirement. The next, his job had gone to Brazil, and he found himself unemployed with little chance of finding a comparable position.
Phillips found a new field, thanks to the Building Construction Technology program at Greenville Technical College.
"I checked several places, and the best class I could find that would help me get my license plus the education was Greenville Tech," he says.
Since graduating last spring, he's kept busy, completing a sunroom and several decks, and he recently purchased a home to remodel and flip, something he hopes to do again. When he's not on a job, he's back at Greenville Technical College, working as a lab technician and assisting other students as they acquire skills.
A top student while at Greenville Technical College, Phillips won the SkillsUSA competition at the state level and qualified for the national competition. When he entered the program, building was booming. By graduation, things had slowed. Still, Phillips feels certain that long-term, he's found a winning future.
"Even though it's down now, I still think it's a promising career," he says. "Finding a new field was a big leap, but if you have the determination and you want to, you can do anything."