Will’s Story

In High School I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I did know that I liked helping people and thought I might want to be a teacher or a detective. I thought I would go to college and play sports and figure it out from there. I got accepted to most of the four year colleges in the state and decided to go to Western Washington University because I thought I would get the best education there out of the schools I’d been accepted to. I was also able to walk onto the football team.

I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would and applied to transfer to Central Washington University. Towards the end of the year I started liking Western more than I had in the beginning but I still decided to keep my plan to transfer. I walked on to the football team again at Central but got injured right away. While I was recovering from my injury I realized that I wasn’t going to the NFL and I wasn’t enjoying college that much. I decided to stop sports and just focus on my college experience. I graduated from Central Washington University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Exercise Science.

After college, I became a personal trainer. I worked my way up to more senior positions at more exclusive gyms. I really liked using my knowledge and training and helping people, but I missed the teamwork and camaraderie and felt isolated working one on one with people by myself. I got to know one of the Fire Chiefs through the club and he told me he thought I’d be a good firefighter and asked if I’d be interested. He thought my wanted to help people, work on a team and enjoying a challenge would make firefighting a good fit for me. With his encouragement I decided to pursue it.

Becoming a firefighter is challenging and takes a long time. You have to become an EMT and get some practice going on calls. It also helps to spend some time as a volunteer firefighter. Doing all that is tough when you have another job but it was a really good fit for me. I had an easier time getting and staying in shape for the job and understanding EMT training because of my college background in exercise science and having a background in how body mechanics work.

Having a college degree isn’t required to be a firefighter but it helps because it shows you can commit to something challenging and finish it. It also helps you get promoted faster and be considered for management.

I love being a firefighter because I get to help people, I get the feeling of working on a team like a family when we’re together at the station. We respond to a lot of chaos and everyone knows their role and their job and everyone does it when we get a call. We all have different backgrounds but we come together to do what we need to do. There are always new things to learn and new challenges. I also earn a good income and can leave my job at work and when I’m off I can focus on my family and other things for fun instead of worrying about my job.

What do you wish you had known when you were a high school senior?

I’m the first person in my family to go to college, and I wish I had known more about my college options. I basically applied to all the colleges in Washington State, but I wish I had known how to look at all my options including out of state.

What is your favorite thing about being an adult?

I love having the control to make things happen that I want to do.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I work hard when I’m at work and you never know what’s going to happen on a given day. The best thing about it is when I leave, I’m done. When I leave work, I leave it all there. I don’t have to work when I’m not there or check emails!

Read more real stories about adulting here!