Alumnus Spotlight: Aaron Volkert

Aaron Volkert
Aaron Volkert

Welding Technology grad benefits from Career Services

Aaron Volkert, 21, started working as a welder at the age of 16, applying his TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding skills to building duck boats. Originally from Burnsville, Minnesota, Aaron graduated from Burnsville High School in 2014. He pursued an associate degree in computer science at Normandale Community College, but wasn’t happy spending so much time in a classroom setting.

Aaron decided he wasn’t suited for work that meant sitting at a desk all day. He needed a career that required working with his hands and using his head for troubleshooting. He had a talent for welding and went to work as a robotic welding operator for BTD Manufacturing, a metalworks fabrication company based in Lakeville, Minnesota. He continued to work full-time at BTD while attending Dakota County Technical College as a student earning a diploma in the Welding Technology program.

“I knew I liked welding and was good at it,” Aaron recalled. “Going back to school was a tough decision, but I knew I would have more opportunities in the long run.”

Bart Slye, a DCTC welding instructor and certified welding inspector, reported that Aaron was an excellent student. “Aaron not only excelled at welding, but was a real joy to have in class as well. Being in the Welding Tech program led Aaron to explore a couple welding jobs—and I’m sure Career Services at DCTC must of had a part in helping him choose his next step in his career plans.”

Jessica Ayub, Career Services director at DCTC, is focused on making sure students and graduates have ample opportunities to meet with prospective employers. At an Industry Career Fair on October 18, 2017, the DCTC campus will do just that.

“The Career Services office assists our prospective and current students with choosing their major, while other students like Aaron are certain of their pursuit of the degree coming in,” Jessica said. “During time assisting the Welding Tech students in the Job Search Skills class, I was impressed with Aaron’s aspirations to pursue more education after graduation before he went to the job fair. We appreciate employers like Kemps who are supportive with financial options, so much so that it allowed Aaron to re-enter DCTC for his current Energy Tech program.”

Graduation, Career Fair and new job at Kemps

In May 2017, Aaron graduated from DCTC with his Welding Technology diploma. That same month, he also started a new job as an industrial maintenance technician with Kemps at the company’s location in Farmington, Minnesota. Aaron learned about job opportunities at Kemps while attending a Career Fair held on the DCTC campus.

Darin Jones, maintenance manager at Kemps in Farmington, is happy to have Aaron as a member of his team. “One of the best qualities Aaron has is his potential and how he doesn’t allow anything or anyone to limit it,” Darin said. “He is always ready for the next challenge.”

About Kemps

KempsA family of farmers, neighbors and friends.

Since 1914, Kemps has been delighting families throughout the upper Midwest with wholesome and delicious dairy products. From our beginnings as a small creamery in Southeastern Minnesota, Kemps has extended its roots to include the manufacture and marketing of fresh milk, premium ice cream and frozen yogurt, frozen novelties, sour cream and cottage cheese through retail supermarkets and food service channels. Headquartered today in St. Paul, Minnesota, we operate six manufacturing facilities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota and have over 1,200 employees.

Courtesy of Kemps

More about Aaron…

Aaron resides in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul. When he’s not working, he enjoys hiking, especially in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. He also likes learning more about computer science. He comes from a large family with seven children. His six sisters and brothers are Sarah, 31, Rachel, 23, Abby, 18, Josh, 29, Caleb, 27, and John, 22. He and his siblings were adopted by their aunt and uncle, Kim and Brad, when their mom died.

Aaron is continuing his education at DCTC, earning an A.A.S. degree in the Energy Technical Specialist program. He is only four credits away from earning his A.S. degree in Computer Science from Normandale.

Upcoming Industry Career Fair at DCTC

Dakota County Technical College invites students, alumni, employers and campus professionals to our campus-wide Industry Career Fair Wednesday, October 18, 2017, from 10 a.m. to noon in the East Central Commons on the college’s main campus in Rosemount, Minnesota.

Industry Career Fair

Job seekers and employers can learn more about the fair by following the event link below:


Starting Friday, October 13, students can use the above link to search for employers attending the fair.

More about Career Services at DCTC…

Career Services at DCTC helps students and alumni develop, evaluate and implement their career plans. Career Services achieves three main objectives:

  1. Provides students with the knowledge, skills and resources needed to accomplish their career development and job search goals.
  2. Educates students on career options.
  3. Encourages students to take initiative.

Other resources include help with career-related topics, including:

  • Job searching
  • Resume writing and cover letters
  • Salary information
  • Women in IT
  • Job search preparation
  • Interviewing
  • Career exploration and planning

You can also utilize College Central Network (CCN), the DCTC online employment system that allows current students and graduates more options to connect with employers and vice versa.

To learn more, visit Career Services.

Aaron Volkert Q & A

Aaron Volkert

Aaron Volkert

Q: What are your transfer plans for after DCTC?
A: I’m thinking about going to the University of Minnesota to earn my bachelor’s degree, but I’m not sure what field I want to study.

Q: How did the Career Fair at DCTC help you make your career decision?
A: I met with the HR person from Kemps at a spring 2017 Career Fair and asked if Kemps had any welding job openings. I completed a job application and I ended up doing two interviews. I had a strong resume—I was working at BTD and had also worked as an automotive mechanic—and Career Services at DCTC helped me prepare.

Q: What has been your toughest challenge in life?
A: Deciding to going back to school knowing I wouldn’t have help paying for my education.

Q: What is your greatest accomplishment?
A: Expanding on my college education at DCTC to take on my job as an industrial maintenance technician at Kemps. I’ve been able to adapt to my new position, which covers more ground and has more responsibilities. I also earned certification in sanitary welding through Kemps.

Q: What person has influenced you the most in life?
A: My brother, Caleb. He has a master’s in neurology from the University of Minnesota. He works for Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Q: What is the favorite part of your job at Kemps?
A: No day is ever the same. My job as an industrial maintenance technician is focused on keeping things running. Everything is always breaking and there are always problems to solve.

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Weld or join metal pieces together using hand-welding, flame-cutting, or brazing tools.

Above the statewide median of $19.62/hour


Median: $20.34/hour • High: $24.19/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $21.50/hour • High: $25.52/hour

— Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

About the Welding Technology program at DCTC

The Welding Technology program offers a variety of training in different welding processes specific to our trade. You will gain knowledge through theory in class and hands-on experience in our state-of-the-art welding labs. Major topics and welding processes are explored in this nine-month course that prepare you for entry-level positions in the industry.

  • Subjects covered include:
  • Shielded metal arc
  • Gas metal arc
  • Flux cored arc
  • Gas tungsten arc welding processes oxy/fuel
  • Plasma arc
  • Carbon air arc cutting and gouging processes

You will work with a variety of metals, including steel, stainless steel and aluminum. Shop fabrication, blueprint reading, math, visual inspection and safety are also covered in the curriculum.

To learn more, visit Welding Technology.
To learn more about Career Services at DCTC, contact:

Career Services
Career Services Center: Room 2-202

To learn more about Welding Technology at DCTC, contact:

Bruce Hartung
Welding Technology Faculty