Tag Archives: hurdle

Hoping for a Breakthrough

21 Jun

Daniel Moreno PhotoDaniel Moreno knows the meaning of hard work and determination. Daniel was born in Mexico, the sixth of seven children. Daniel’s uncle took him under his wing at age nine, and they moved to the United States where they worked seasonal crop picking jobs. Daniel became a citizen when he was 16 and lived with his uncle, who he described as his father figure, until he was about 29. “Life was hard,” he said. “I never attended a day of school. My uncle told me, ‘If you want to make it, you gotta learn how to work.’”

And work he did. Daniel and his uncle moved all over the country; they picked apples in Washington State, peaches in Georgia and oranges in Florida. He even moved West – to Wyoming and Nebraska – to be closer to his parents and other siblings, who had moved to Nebraska.

Daniel said he established a strong work ethic early in his life, working from 5 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the crop fields, and then working in the evenings at other jobs. Throughout his life, Daniel became a jack of all trades: he worked for an auto mechanic shop, was an interstate truck driver, rode bulls in a Cheyenne, Wyoming, rodeo, and also learned the construction trade. A native Spanish speaker, Daniel found it difficult to obtain employment since he did not speak English. He was determined to pick up those skills and became fluent in English by speaking with his coworkers.

Daniel eventually moved to the Central Texas area, where he ran into legal trouble. He was incarcerated for eight years and will be on parole until mid-2017. When he was released from prison in early 2015, Daniel said he had difficulty finding employment due to his criminal background and his age. But, like when he learned English, he was determined to succeed. “I was a go getter, filling out a lot of applications,” Daniel said.

Daniel worked with Goodwill Central Texas and Workforce Solutions South Career Center staff, who are collocated in the same building on Burleson Road, to refine his resume and receive job search assistance. “Mr. Moreno continuously came into the computer lab at the resource center at the Burleson location to gain more computer skills as well as apply for employment and get job leads through his Career Case Manager (CCM),” said Dayna Salinas of Goodwill Central Texas. “He had spoken with his CCM about his previous applications he submitted through Goodwill but had not been hired.  Instead of giving up, Mr. Moreno continued to stay motivated and speak with any Goodwill Hiring Manager to see if there were any jobs available in the warehouse.”

In January 2016, he was hired by Goodwill! “Goodwill hired me for three days, then they hired me full time!” Daniel said. Once he found employment, Daniel was able to use Workforce Solutions’ services to purchase work clothes.

“Daniel exemplified enduring hope while he was waiting for a breakthrough to happen,” said Workforce Solutions South Center Manager Jennifer Cerretti. “When that breakthrough happened, it spoke volumes to those that had been watching him wait. He has not stopped being a role model to others in the work ethic and positive attitude that he carries with him and shares with others on a daily basis.”

Daniel’s jack of all trades skills are an advantage at Goodwill. In February 2016, Goodwill awarded Daniel Employee of the Month! “They’ve got me all over,” Daniel said of the wide variety of job duties. “I’ll do whatever I need to do.” Among other things, Daniel works with “tippers,” or machines that place donated goods onto tables so that they can be sorted and organized for sale in Goodwill’s stores. Daniel is frequently assigned to the recycling area and is also responsible for dismantling wooden pallets. A natural people person, he has even worked on the store floor, greeting customers and informing them about the prices of items.

Daniel is moving toward independence, having secured full-time employment, and he plans to obtain his forklift certification through Goodwill. In addition to gaining financial independence, Daniel has become a mentor to jobseekers at the South Career Center, helping at least three find employment with Goodwill. By moving past his criminal background and finding full-time employment, Daniel has shown that he is truly a go getter! “I want to work for Goodwill as long as they will let me,” he said.

 

About Employment Services

There are many aspects to a job search. Workforce Solutions Capital Area is here to be your teacher, coach and partner in finding your next job opportunity.

We’re your go-to source for job search assistance and employment-related services in Travis County. Named as the “Best Place to Look for a Job” by The Austin Chronicle, our Career Centers can help you:

  • Find a Job
  • Build Your Resume
  • Prepare for Interviews

For more information, visit http://www.wfscapitalarea.com/JobSeekers 

 

Driven to Succeed

18 Apr

 

Viginus Nwokonkwo

Viginus Nwokonkwo enrolled in the Workforce and Education Readiness Continuum (or WERC) seeking employment assistance.  However, soon after enrolling, Viginus had to return home to Nigeria to tend to a death in the family. In June of 2014, upon return to the United States, Viginus began training for a Commercial Driver’s License.

During training, he was sleeping on a friend’s couch and experiencing car troubles. Determined to complete his training, however, Viginus borrowed a friend’s car and made the long commute. Unfortunately, his challenges did not end with transportation.  Viginus was also dealing with custody issues for his daughter while in training.

Rather than be swayed or defeated by these challenges, Viginus was driven.  He was determined to get back on his feet.  Viginus graduated from Austin Community College’s CDL program and found full-time employment with Gemini, a trucking company that transports crude oil throughout the United States.

He is no longer dependent on friends for a place to live or a car to use and is establishing a better life for himself and his daughter.

Viginus also remains grateful for the assistance and support he received from Workforce Solutions and the WERC program.  He is always willing to help current WERC clients who have any questions about CDL or are interested in working for Gemini.

About WERC

The Workforce and Education Readiness Continuum (WERC) provides client services ranging from Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English as a Second Language (ESL) to job readiness instruction and occupational training with the goal of empowering clients with the skills they need to advance their employment opportunities and realize their economic potential. For more information program specifics and eligibility requirements, please visit www.wercaustin.com

Polishing Rusty Skills

5 Aug

All3OfUsChriss Rathbun, a self-proclaimed “geek” and experienced information technology professional, loves the IT industry and has successfully weathered its highs and lows. He lost his Project Management job in the early 2000s during the dot com bubble, and bounced back in 2004 with an IT management position, which he held for 10 years. However, Mr. Rathbun faced his biggest career hurdle in 2014, when his company centralized its IT division to Pennsylvania, forcing its employees to choose between moving or staying in Austin.

 

“I literally worked myself out of a job,” Mr. Rathbun said. He had developed a way for his company’s offices around the nation to streamline IT issues through the Pennsylvania-based division. Once that system was in place, his company made the decision to eliminate the IT department in Austin.

 

Mr. Rathbun was unwilling to leave Austin, a tech-friendly city that “appeals to my inner geek,” where he has put down firm roots. In addition to the home he bought more than a decade ago, he met and married his wife, Anastasia, in Austin, and their daughter, Ella, was born in their Austin home.

 

After searching for jobs without assistance from February through August 2014, Mr. Rathbun soon realized that, although he had a college degree and significant professional experience, employers wanted more. Throughout his career, Mr. Rathbun had become an experienced IT Project Manager, but he had never obtained professional Project Management or current IT certifications, such as ITIL. He needed to obtain the certifications to “cover what I’d been doing for the last 25 years,” he said.

 

Mr. Rathbun also experienced some significant health issues, which were exacerbated by the stress of losing his job. With medical bills and mortgage payments looming, Mr. Rathbun reached out to Workforce Solutions to help him get ahead of the curve.

 

Mr. Rathbun was eligible for Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Dislocated Worker Program training, and he worked with Kathryn Riley at Workforce Solutions to choose a training package that would make him more marketable. From August to December 2014, Mr. Rathbun obtained several Microsoft certifications, a Project Management Professional credential and ITIL service management training and certification through St. Edward’s University. “I completed those trainings while becoming healthy; I focused on that and recreating who I was,” Mr. Rathbun said.

 

While Mr. Rathbun had the full support of his “lovely ladies” – his wife and daughter – at home, his classmates also encouraged him to persevere through his medical and financial issues. “My instructors and I, as well as some of my classmates, still keep in touch,” Mr. Rathbun said. “If I were in a vacuum without family and the support of Workforce Solutions, I don’t know if I’d have had the determination to complete the classes and get the certifications. But my family needed me and supported me, and so did other people I’d met who’d been laid off. With their support, I kept on trucking and got it done.”

 

In addition to his training courses, Mr. Rathbun also attended interview and resume classes at WFS career centers and joined a networking job club, which he attended once a week. The courses helped refresh his job search skills, which were rusty since he had worked at his previous position for 10 years. “I learned so much at these classes about tricks to get my resume seen,” Mr. Rathbun said. “While working in IT management, I read thousands of resumes and interviewed hundreds of people. I wouldn’t have gone to these classes if I hadn’t been forced to go, but I was amazed by how much I learned.”

 

While enrolled in his training program, Mr. Rathbun and his family experienced financial hardship when his unemployment insurance ended. So, they got creative. “My family needed to do some spring cleaning anyway, so we held multiple garage sales and sold items on eBay, Amazon and other sites.”

 

Mr. Rathbun and his family also received a one-time mortgage assistance payment through the WIOA program while he was completing his studies. His hard work paid off, and he obtained employment as a Senior IT Project Manager shortly after his training programs ended! Mr. Rathbun plans to continue expanding his skill set by obtaining additional certifications.

 

Kathryn Riley with Workforce Solutions said she was impressed by how Mr. Rathbun remained dedicated to his training although he and his family endured challenges. “Chriss handled all the challenges and continued to excel in school. Chriss maintained a positive attitude and applied himself to training and his job search,” Ms. Riley said.

 

“Don’t be too proud to get help,” Mr. Rathbun advises other job seekers. “You’ve got a family and responsibilities, and you don’t have to do it on your own. My advice to someone in a similar situation is to immediately go down to Workforce Solutions and get into a job club. Don’t underestimate the programs, don’t underestimate the training, and don’t try to do it by yourself. Take advantage of the wonderful people and programs available there.”

 

About the WIOA Dislocated program

The Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act program is a no-cost employment program designed to give job seekers the support and/or skills training they need to find a job. For more information program specifics and eligibility requirements, please visit our site.

Skills without the Means

9 Sep

James Poissot - PhotoJames Poissot is no stranger to hard work and unfortunately harder times.  Following high school, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps.  After serving 9 years, including 4 tours in Afghanistan and 5 tours in Iraq, James exited the military and returned to the civilian workforce in the midst of the Great Recession.

Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, James traveled around the U.S., unsure of where he could plant roots. SXSW might have brought James to Austin but the people he met kept him here.

“Never had anybody anywhere shown that much concern for me,” says James. “Every other place in the country treats their veterans poorly. They just offer words, no help.”

While he may have found the city he wanted to call home, James still had one significant hurdle to overcome.  Despite having acquired some very specific skills in the military, including working as an auto mechanic, James struggled to find gainful employment.  This lack of steady employment unfortunately led James to become homeless for several years.

Challenges and hurdles aside, James refused to give up hope, applying for jobs regularly.

“It felt like I’d put in 1,000 jobs a day,” says James.

One day, James met a service manager with a local transmission shop.  He explained that despite his current homeless status, he had prior experience working on manual and automatic transmissions in the military.  By owning his valuable skills and taking the risk to outreach, James found an employer willing to work with him.  The only thing he had left to do was to get the tools. That need and a recommendation led James to Workforce Solutions.

As a part of the WIA program with Workforce Solutions, James was able to acquire the necessary tools to perform the job duties as a transmission mechanic.  He also worked with representatives from the Texas Veterans Commission stationed within the local Workforce Solutions Career Center.

James says, “People really are appreciative of our defense of their freedom. If [a veteran] wants better, they can find better with Workforce.”

James is now fully employed and saving up to put a deposit down on an apartment. With a little help, this veteran finally has his life back on track.

 

About the WIA Program

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program is a no-cost employment program designed to give job seekers the support and/or skills training they need to find a job. Specifically, WIA can provide:

  • Job search assistance
  • Child care assistance while in training
  • Transportation assistance
  • Interview clothing and uniforms
  • Tools needed for your new job
  • Funding for basic skills and occupational training

 

For more information about the program and eligibility, please visit www.wfscapitalarea.com.