Dylan England was like many high school students – school was OK and he always passed his subjects, but it sure wasn’t his passion. But unlike many high school students, Dylan knew what he wanted to do and was provided a pathway to explore that career interest.

“I was always interested in becoming a lineman and through the 12 for Life program, I jumped at the chance to co-op at Carroll EMC,” he explained.

Dylan attended Temple High School and as a junior participated in Southwire’s nationally acclaimed cooperative program that provides students a place where they can mix classroom time with time on the floor at a real manufacturing plant, gaining an education, a paycheck, key work and life skills, and a diploma.

“I was working at the 12 for Life plant but moved over to Carroll EMC’s program when a position opened up,” said England. “I worked in the warehouse and shop but was given the opportunity to shadow a lineman crew.”

Foreman Corey Webb sawpotential in England. “He fit the mold for a lineman and we hired him.”

That sounds easy but it wasn’t. Following high school graduation, England attended a 15-week training program at the Southeast Lineman Training Center in Trenton, GA. Knowledge of the nuances of specific electrical work related to power systems is of utmost importance. Knowing how to be a team player, communication skills, and physical conditioning are also needed to succeed in the often high-tension situations linemen find themselves in out in the field.

“The training was very physical but there was also a lot of classroom work involving math and science, which I always liked in school,” England said. “My class started out with 215 people but ended up with only 160 graduates because the testing was so tough.”

When he graduated, there were three openings for lineman at Carroll EMC and 70 applicants. Landing the job was completely on him, bringing all of his experiences to the interview process — including his work-based learning.

As in every career pathway, learning never ends. According to Tommy Cook, Carroll EMC construction manager, their technology is always changing and it is a 10 year road to become a journeyman lineman.

“Dylan has been with us for almost a year and started out as a groundsman. He will be an apprentice for five years and after meeting all qualifications and completing both local and state training, it will take another five years to be a journeyman,” Cook said.

England is very appreciative of the mentors he has had along the way from both Southwire and Carroll EMC. David Huddleston, Carroll EMC purchasing manager and liaison for the 12 for Life program, was a mentor for England as a co-op student and continues to be a role model for him today.

“When you mentor a student, it’s not about helping them do well for four or five hours a day at work,” Huddleston explained. “My job is to help these students succeed in life by instilling life skills in them.”

Huddleston noted that one student contacted him six months after completing the program to thank him. “Now I get it,” the student said. “Now everything you taught me is making sense.” Dylan England also “gets it.”

“Dylan is truly a success story. He went through our program and now as an employee, he is doing exceptionally well,” Huddleston said. “He and I go out to the schools and he tells his story — he believes in the servant leadership of giving back.”

Huddleston said that it wasn’t always a smooth road for England. “As with most high school boys, he would rebel at times and we had our ups and downs. But Dylan didn’t quit and I didn’t quit on him.”

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for my co-op experience,” England said. “I would still be looking for what to do with my life.”