Stephen Howell of Howell Design & Build, North Andover, Mass., found a great carpenter's helper through one of his customers. The client's son was interested in the construction field, and Howell agreed to have the teen work for him over the summer. Now a high school junior, Patrick O'Brien has been at the company three years.

During the school year, he heads to jobsites after classes, at around 3:00. He works in the shop on weekends and sometimes helps carpenters work on side jobs. During the summer and vacations, he works for Howell, as well.

O'Brien has picked up valuable carpentry skills from the crew. And working at the remodeling company deepened his interest in carpentry. He is applying to a preservation carpentry program in Boston. "I would recommend this as a great way to introduce kids to the field of carpentry and remodeling," Howell says.

At first, Howell wasn't sure about hiring the teenager. "But I realized the advantage of having someone come in to do cleanup at the end of the day for half the money we pay our lead carpenters," he says.