For the first time since COVID, the annual FutureQuest Career Expo was reinstated on November 29th at Alliant Energy Center here in Madison – and Tim Sweeney, Brett Clarke, and Bryanna “Bry” Santana from Sweeney Design Remodel enthralled Dane County kids with real world job experiences. “Our kids are the future,” smiles Tim. “Few things are more important than actively inspiring them to become the next generation of Dane County professionals!”

“Many kids don’t feel like they have anything to look forward to if they aren’t interested in going to college,” agrees Brett, Project Developer at Sweeney with over twenty-four years of experience. “So it’s incredibly rewarding to demonstrate real world job experiences to them at FutureQuest, opening their eyes wide to an exciting career and life plan that gives them hope and encouragement. There’s really no substitute for ‘hands-on’ education and empowerment.”

FutureQuest started in 2017 with the goal of providing better career awareness to MS students wondering what to do when they grow up. This year’s event brought in over 5,200 middle school kids, teachers, advisors, and parents from 31 schools across Dane County, and featured demonstrations from specialists across 16 different career clusters. Trade zones hosted volunteers from fire and police departments, finance companies, and other industries.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) of Madison Chapter sponsored part of Zone 5, dedicated to Architecture and Construction. Companies and contractor members specializing in landscaping, plumbing, tile setting, electrical, and interior design were asked to volunteer and set up shop, including design build firm, Sweeney Design Remodel. “This is the second year that we have participated in Future Quest,” says Tim. “We were eager to inspire more local kids.”

“We came prepared, and so did the middle schoolers,” beams Brett. “They were excited and attentive, and asked great questions about the work projects, company culture, and necessary training.” Experiences featured picking up hand tools and learning how to install a deck board, use a drill, and install hidden fasteners. Various stations taught them pipe, tile, and fabric fitting, enabling them to create patterns and take their completed projects home with them as trophies.

A people-first company with strong roots in the community, Sweeney Design Remodel takes tremendous pride in its Youth Apprenticeship Program, and hiring directly from local schools. Bry Santana, one of the youngest carpenters at Sweeney, was hired directly out of Madison Area Technical College just this year. She bonded with the inquisitive kids, who naturally gravitated around her asking questions, and eager to absorb everything she could teach them. 

“I had a fun time inspiring the kids,” rejoices Bry. “They had an easier time talking to me because I was close to them in age. I was happy to see girls interested, too. Working as an apprentice can be hard at first, but with the right personality, determination, and vision anyone can shine!  Important skills include a hard-working attitude, being a critical thinker, good communicator, and problem solver. I also told them that math skills are important.”

Tim and Brett are proud of Bry, and were excited to see hundreds of Dane County 7th and 8th graders embrace the trades as a viable alternative to college. “I wish I’d had exposure to an interactive Craft Expo like this,” insists Bry. “It would have opened my eyes to the trades as a career choice much earlier.” Tim agrees. “These kids are overflowing with energy and brimming with potential. We need to inspire and give them purpose with fairs like this in high school, too.”

About Sweeney Design Remodel

A people-centered business since inception in 1954, Sweeney Design Remodel of Madison, WI believes that remodeling is better when steeped in values. By guiding homeowners through a proprietary design-build process, customers are informed, engaged, and 100% satisfied. Their commitment to transparency and accountability has made Sweeney one of the most trusted names in remodeling, garnering gushing reviews of stunning work with award-winning design.