Get hands on experience with projects around home or work.
Seize any opportunities you have with friends or family to get hands on experience with mechanical or building projects. Even very basic projects like changing the oil in the lawnmower, changing the battery in the family car, building a bird house or a deer blind are a good way to learn some basic skills like using simple hand tools, how to read a tape measure, etc. If you have a job, ask your boss if you can be involved with mechanical projects around work. Better yet, try to find a summer job or school to work opportunity at a machining or fabrication shop so you can be immersed in metal manufacturing and interact with others who have already chosen careers in these fields.
Working with “hands on” projects also gives you the chance to experience the feeling of pride of building or fixing something. That sense of accomplishment is a key reason why so many people find significant gratification in careers in welding and machining. A student who knows their way around a work shop or has some basic “handyman” skills will have a leg up on students who have never used a tape measure or spun a wrench.
Most career opportunities in advanced metal manufacturing require people to have good manual dexterity. Being “good with your hands” and enjoying that type of work are important traits if you are considering this career path.