Millennials Are Ready to Work: The Joshua Lee Story

It has been said that someone with vision can go far in life, but someone with vision and a hard working ethic is guaranteed to go far. Nineteen-year-old Joshua Lee is living proof that someone with a hard work ethic and a clear vision can truly excel.

Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation according to population estimates released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials will represent nearly 75 percent of the workforce by 2030.

Micah Solomon noted in his Forbes article, that more millennials than non-millennials integrate their beliefs and causes into their choice of companies to support, with their purchases and their day-to-day interactions. When seeking an employer to help him achieve his dreams, Lee found one that believed in not only working hard but education as much as he did. The millennial generation, the first to grow up with smartphones in their hands, is often stereotyped as lazy and entitled. But workplace experts say workaholics are common among 19-to-35-year-olds, perhaps more so than among older members of Generation X and baby boomers.

Lee is no different, with dreams of one day owning his own business, Lee is currently focusing on his education and saving money so he is ready when the opportunity presents itself as he embarks on this journey with Turner Industries—proving that millennials are ready to work.

BUILD HOUSTON: Thank you for sitting down with me today, I’m sure your new role at Turner Industries, combined with your class schedule is keeping you busy. Let’s tackle one at a time, what is your role with Turner Industries Group?

LEE: No problem at all, thank you for having me. Yes, I am really busy at work and school, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. By trade I am a pipe mechanic. Simply stated, I work with a range of tools to diagnose and repair industrial or agricultural machinery and equipment malfunctions. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could easily start an explosion or worse.

BUILD HOUSTON: What was High School like for you? Where did you go to school and name something you enjoyed about attending this school?

LEE: I went to Pearland Independent School District. My favorite classes were welding. Many people think my High School experience was not “normal”—which is far from the truth. The main difference is that my studies will allow me to obtain a position that will pay me what many folks don’t make until they graduate college.

BUILD HOUSTON: At such a young age, you seem so sure of yourself; very confident in the path you’ve chosen. How did you know construction was the industry for you?

LEE: Basically, I like working with my hands and tinkering with items- I don’t mind getting a little dirty. I knew I wanted to create and build—a simple office profession wasn’t going to cut it for me. The knowledge piece is also what attracted me. Many young adults like myself don’t know how much studying and learning goes into various crafts, especially the one I’m pursuing. No one in my family besides my brother works in the industry. He works in Process Technologies and inspired me to do the same.

BUILD HOUSTON: What’s does the next five years look like for you? Speaking to your many supporters, it seems you will have done more than many within your age group before the age of 25.

LEE: First I have to complete one and half years of Millwright technical training, then go back to school to complete the 2-year degree program for Process Technologies all while working a full
forty-plus hour work week. It’s tough but you get acclimated and train yourself to work.

BUILD HOUSTON: I spoke with your former teacher, Patricia Hayes, and current Site Manager at Turner Industries, Forest Silva, they had this to say about you. Hayes: “What I admire most about Joshua is his work ethic. He is willing to help with anything he can and is very knowledgeable and dedicated to doing his best.” Silva: “Joshua is an extremely hard worker, I was impressed with him since day one. Almost every day he is out at the shop studying before the work day has begun, during lunch or any breaks— he truly wants to succeed.” How do their words make you feel? Do you agree?

LEE: It makes me feel good and motivates me to work even harder. Turner has been a huge supporter of me continuing my education and for that, I’m extremely grateful. My dreams keep me going. It was always ingrained in me to set goals and work hard to achieve them—that’s how your work ethic is determined. Whenever I reach one of my goals, I simply make new goals to achieve so that I continue to get better.


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