“I am doing things that most women wouldn’t believe they could do,” says Heather, a recent graduate of the TrANS program. Heather joined Wisconsin Works to get back into the workforce, but she never expected her case manager to recommend construction as an option. When she looked at her two small children, however, Heather realized that she could achieve anything for them. That was all it took to get Heather on the road to the career she always wanted.
Heather quickly learned that making good money was just one benefit of working in construction. “I liked pushing myself to learn the things that I didn’t know and surprised myself with how well I was doing,” Heather tells us. Her instructor Lorie encouraged her to learn different skills and career paths in construction. “She had confidence in me, and as I learned the material, passed the trainings, and completed the program, I realized I could do everything that Lorie said I could.”
On Lorie’s advice, Heather signed up to earn her CDL. “Before I even started at the driving school, I had a contractor interested in hiring me,” she says. The day she graduated, they actually asked her up to their corporate office to offer her a better position with more hours. “I had my second daughter in October – soon after that had joined TrANS. Now I’m on my way to giving one of the best futures to my beauties! They deserve it!! I’m so happy to be a mom, excited, and so pumped now for learning new ways to be creative in the field I desire – never would have thought it.”
“This job means that I will be able to provide for my kids, to be a responsible parent. It has made me feel better about myself, more secure in what I do and what I can do in the future. This is the job that I have always wanted. I love it!”
Heather is currently doing roadwork with Payne & Dolan. When asked what advice she’d give others, she says to listen to others who are trying to help, because “sometimes they see your abilities better than you see them in yourself.”
Well done, Heather!
Rebecca has gone from the field of medicine to the beautiful forests of Wisconsin to find the job she loves. “I was working as a registered nurse when I decided that I just wasn’t happy with what I had chosen as a career,” says Rebecca. The long hours, a change in her family, and difficulty finding work in a new field convinced her that it was time “to go back to school and start over.” When a friend recommended she join Wisconsin Works while in school, she got the opportunities she needed to succeed!
As a full-time student and single mom, it was hard for Rebecca to find work that fit around her schedule. She found a job detailing boats during her first summer out of nursing and struggled financially, “but I was much happier working outside, and I sure wasn’t going to give up on my new journey.” That’s when she joined W-2 and FSET. She met with her case manager Renee, to create a plan for success. This included volunteering right in the office, where she got to build relationships with support staff, employers, other clients, and skills instructors. “Each person offered something unique to my success. Some of these included sharing hardship or success stories, offering a listening ear for those tough times, offering advice and help finding resources in the area, and the education necessary to be successful in the job search.”
With their support, Rebecca moved from boat detailing to full-time work as a grounds intern, before finding work at the Department of Natural Resources in two short-term positions in 2016 and 2017. She graduated from the Natural Resources program at Fox Valley Technical College in May 2017 and just started work as a Permit/Environmental Specialist at Mid-State Consultants. It’s part-time with benefits, giving her time to complete two more certificates at Fox Valley Tech – which she just earned this May!
“A major contribution for my advancement opportunities, I believe, were from all the help, support, and relationship-building skills I gained while in the W-2 and FSET programs,” she says. Renee “helped motivate me when all I wanted to do was give up with words of encouragement and just being there to listen.” Kerri helped her craft a resume and cover letter, “always let me know when area employers would be in for open interviews, and was the go-to for questions about employers in the area.” Rebecca also took a budgeting workshop that pinpointed where her money was disappearing each month and how to prioritize her payments. “I [still] use the budget worksheet today now that I have a steady income.”
Fantastic! Congratulations, Rebecca!
Alex Earns His Apprenticeship
“To understand the power of Alex’s story, you have to go back to April of 2013 after he had graduated our program,” says Northeast TrANS instructor Ranard. Alex was working as a cart-runner earning minimum wage. He and his fiancee were struggling to support their three-year old daughter, before he found his first job in construction. His career took off from there, until finally in 2015 he got his shot at his dream job working at Northeast Asphalt.
“I wanted to succeed so bad,” Alex tells Ranard. “It was just finding my niche, with different forms of construction. Going to and finding the one you can see yourself doing every day.” Alex earned his CDL at Fox Valley Tech, helping him advance in the field, and last season he earned an apprenticeship with an Operating Engineer.
This year, he’s starting his fifth season with Northeast Asphalt. He’s able to support his family and even took them to Florida for vacation last year (pictured below). When asked what this job means to him, he says “All I can say is, it’s not a job anymore. It’s a career. Honestly, in the construction industry – everyone should well know this. You want to be with your crew, or you want to be with your family… When I work at Northeast, you’re family.”
Phenomenal work, Alex! Congrats!
Watch the full interview with Alex to find out what drives this young man to work double-time at everything he does – and learn why his secret to success is like asking McDonald’s for the secret to Big Macs.
Evan met Craig, an FSET Account Representative, while he was visiting the Job Center this January. Evan knew there were opportunities waiting – even if he had to wait at a homeless shelter surrounded by strangers. They struck up a conversation, and before he knew it, Evan signed up for FoodShare and joined FSET. It wasn’t long then before he had the job he wanted – in fact, he was hired within five days!
FSET helped Evan get transportation, polish his resume, and apply for work he’d be good at. He had worked in factory settings before and knew that getting a decent job was “the biggest stepping stone” on his path to success. His enthusiasm caught Craig’s attention, and they made a team effort to secure a great job. After they completed applications together, Craig called his connections to let them know why Evan would be a perfect addition to their team. When Services Plus got his call, they were primed for action – they set up an interview with Evan and hired him on the spot.
Fast forward three months, and Evan was back at the Job Center – but this time he was telling Craig that he’s just started training to become a Line Supervisor! He’s staying with FSET for support as he works his way up, and he even has his own apartment now. Congratulations, Evan!
It was late one night after a long day’s work at the cleaning service. Five months pregnant, Ajuana was doing all she could to find a safe place for her two-year old daughter to call home. After the divorce, her little girl was diagnosed with lead poisoning, the Department of Health condemned their house, and Ajuana was left to look for a new home. “I was sleeping in my car and moving from house to house. All I knew was I had to get a roof over my head so that I could have my child back safe and sound with me.” Ajuana saved every dime she had to move to a small town, where she found a part-time job that gave her just enough money for gas. She wanted more for her family, so she enrolled in Wisconsin Works and FSET.
Today, Ajuana has a full-time job with Wilson Hurd. “I felt truly blessed!” she tells us. “I accomplished all my goals in less than 2 months with the assistance of the W-2/FSET program! [My case manager] Renee gave me the push I needed, she believed I could do it when I doubted myself.” Although juggling doctor’s appointments, a job search, and a part-time job was nearly overwhelming, Ajuana trusted Renee’s advice, and her assurance gave Ajuana the strength to pull through.
Late one night, just when Ajuana felt like giving up, that’s when she got the call from Wilson Hurd. “My heart jumped for joy,” says Ajuana. “We scheduled an interview that very next day.” She had a long interview, meeting “everyone in the plant, even the V.P. of Operations.” They sent her an offer that night. “It was at this point that I realized I didn’t have child care.I went in to see my W-2/FSET case manager Renee and she was on the move! She put in some calls and not only did she secure child care for my two-year old but for the one on the way as well. Made sure I had gas vouchers to get back and forth to work and offered steel toes if I needed them. She went above and beyond to make sure I had what I needed.”
“Since my employment with Wilson Hurd, I was promoted in the first week from Wifi Satellite Lead to Quality Assurance Specialist. I have my own office and a place at the round table with the V.P’s and Engineers within the company. I love my job!” Ajuana is due this month. She and Renee have already come up with a game plan for her maternity leave. “I also work with my case manager giving her job leads for others in the program, who just need a break like I did.”
Wonderful, Ajuana! We are so happy for you!
Trusting the Right People
Solid relationships are vital to Graciela. When she came to Wisconsin Works, she wanted to trust the advocates around her, but they needed to earn it. They did, and today she has both the job she wanted and the support she needed to look beyond her past toward a great future!
When Graciela first met her financial counselor Lori, even small hurdles felt overwhelming. A survivor of domestic violence, she wanted to fight for her future, but she didn’t feel comfortable with strangers. Lori immediately worked to put Graciela at ease, assuring her that she was there to talk about anything Graciela needed. “As soon as she began to trust me, everything changed.”
As their partnership grew, Lori quickly learned that Graciela was adamant about sticking to a plan to improve her life. They wrote up a plan including counseling and starting a work experience and ensured that she could continue to attend the Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope initiative for additional counseling on overcoming barriers. Her W-2 team also sought out a Work Experience that would help her get her bearings in the workforce, learn soft skills, and gain the confidence she needed to start a work search in earnest.
“We soon learned the Work Experience site at J&B Consignment was perfect for her,” says Lori. Graciela quickly established a rapport with the owners, who said they would be happy to hire her if they could afford it. That’s when she decided to start networking. She remembered the owner of a Motel 6 who helped her when she had no place else to stay and decided to give him a call. He hired her on the spot!
Her new part-time housekeeping job works out perfectly to accommodate her counseling and her baby boy’s schedule at daycare. It’s the longest stable job she has ever had, and Graciela tells us each week how grateful she is to have the W-2 program for continued support as she pursues her dreams. It has been a pleasure to work with you, Graciela! Congratulations!
Where You’re Treated Like Family
Leonita moved to Wisconsin to be closer to her family. What she found at Forward Service Corporation was a group that welcomed and treated her like family as she looked for her career.
She came with an office background and a passion for helping parents in the child support system. She began pursuing this with a volunteer opportunity in our office to help with projects and other work. She quickly felt valued for her work and easily fell into the fellowship in the office place.
She also threw herself into her job search. She joined the Job Club, where other job seekers support and learn from each other. She also got resume and cover letter advice from ADVOCAP (big shout out). She took all of the feedback from mock interviewers and used it to improve each and every time.
It all paid off when she got offered a job as a child support assistant with the county government.
With her hard work, things just keep getting better for Leonita. She’s getting a place of her own and has said that she’s going to apply herself, learn everything she can, and earn a promotion to a child support case manager.
We have confidence that she’s make this happen. Congratulations, Leonita. We’re proud to have worked with you.
Full-Time Family Man
After the ice and snow this weekend, you might wonder what would compel someone like Edison to leave tropical Puerto Rico for Wisconsin. He’d tell you that it was a great decision for his family. Edison loves the support and care that only Wisconsin offers, and you can tell by the smile on his face that he has a lot to be happy about.
Edison is a man with high hopes – the kind of guy who looks at obstacles like they’re dominoes waiting to be knocked over. He enrolled in Wisconsin Works and FSET to ease the transition for his family as they moved to the US, which was especially important since his children have disabilities requiring extra care. As such, his team helped him manage a busy schedule of doctors appointments, specialists, and applications. They helped him apply for Social Security for his children and referred him to the Veteran’s program at the Job Center to make sure he had a full range of resources. Once he was stable, they started his search for work.
Steady as a rock, Edison consistently set goals, completed each task he set his mind to, and met with every agency that was there to help. He took the initiative to learn about job searching, networking events, and training opportunities. His team helped with transportation, interview prep, setting up connections, and by recommending a training course in cabinet-making that Edison signed up for right away. By the time he graduated from the class, Edison had his first job!
Edison worked at this job for a few weeks before realizing that he needed a job with more flexibility to accommodate his family. His case manager helped him arrange interviews with companies across Wisconsin, but in the end, he decided to accept an offer from Eastco Building Services at the local Veteran’s Hospital.
Edison loves that this job lets him work 2nd shift, because that means he can still be there for his family during the day. They’re is adjusting well to life in the US. They’ve been especially impressed by the assistance and support from everyone – from the schools to programs like ours. We’re happy to help! Congratulations, Edison!
Building a strong family was all the motivation Amber needed to join Wisconsin Works. She never lets anything keep her down, even getting the flu while struggling with homelessness and a broken car. Today, we’re celebrating a milestone with her, as she graduates with her first training certificate!
Amber has persevered over the last few months, knowing she has a strong support network with her W-2 team. They helped her get money to fix her car, find childcare, and search for stable housing. “She was her own motivator,” says her Case Manager Emily. “She rose to the challenge and did what she needed to overcome these barriers for her family.”
With her immediate needs safely tucked away, Amber was ready to pursue her long-term goal: finding a stable job to support her loved ones. The first step was finding out what she could do. She initially thought her only options were in food service, because that’s where she started. Then she started training for the hospitality industry. “Since completing the training, she realized that she has so many possibilities open to her,” says Emily. Amber loved the hands-on experience, and soon she was telling Emily how excited she was to broaden her job search.
In fact, Amber even signed up for the call center training that’s currently running and is expected to earn another certificate by the end of the month. She’s been interviewing with employers and is expecting news very soon. We’re rooting for you, Amber! Great job!
Success is Coming Her Way
Miranda earned an Associate’s Degree so she could get ahead in life. When it turned out the job market wasn’t looking for someone with her credentials, however, she found herself between a rock and a hard place: keep earning just above minimum wage, or go into massive debt to earn another degree and hope for the best. She decided to visit the Job Center for advice. That’s when she learned about WIOA, and soon she was charting a path around her obstacles toward a career she loves!
“She is one of the smartest ladies I know and was not going to let curve balls stop her from achieving her dreams,” her Career Services Specialist John tells us. “But her school before didn’t give her much career advice.” She realized that she had a very general credential in Arts and Sciences, so they talked about how she could pursue a degree that could help her find a career with good wages. WIOA funded her education with money for tuition, books, and testing fees. This gave Miranda the flexibility to work part-time during her studies and the time she needed to explore the in-demand labor market with her career counselors. For the next two years, she raced toward the finish line, graduating with high honors, earning her nursing license, and starting her career as a registered nurse!
Miranda says that her parents, nursing instructors at NWTC, and WIOA staff were her key supporters. “She deserves everything that’s coming her way,” says John. Great job, Miranda!