A New Career Path
Veterans do a noble labor by serving our country. However, many of them struggle to find a job after they return home. Unfortunately, this was Jorge’s experience as well. Jorge started in the military in 2014, and after three years of service, he was ready to get back home and find a new job.
After searching for quite some time, he was able to find a job at a police service company. However, his contract was terminated when he got an upper respiratory disease that prevented him from attending work for a few days. That situation made him promise himself that he wouldn’t be again in a place where he wasn’t appreciated or supported, and that’s why he decided to look in a different direction and get into the trades.
When Jorge started at JARC, he felt very lucky to have an opportunity to start a career in welding. He knew that the discipline he learned in the military would help him succeed in the program. "I felt like I had struck gold, and I was very lucky to be in that position. I knew that I had to cherish it, and I had no other option than to succeed and to go through the program". While he was in the Welding Fast Track Program, he received support services such as transportation assistance, employment coaching, financial coaching, and screening for public benefits and other resources.
In March 2019, Jorge was involved in a motorcycle accident while he was on his way to JARC. He was injured on his head, but he didn’t want to miss class. "I just wanted to show how dedicated I was to the program. Because that's how much it meant to me. I recognized from the beginning that it was a valuable experience and that it needed to be taken seriously". He mentioned that when he got to the training center, everyone at JARC started asking him what happened, and then someone from our staff called a taxi and took him to the hospital immediately. During the accident, he also broke his glasses, and he wasn’t able to afford a new pair. "When I fell off the motorcycle, I was unemployed, and my wife was the one who was taking care of the expenses of our home and our children. It was hard for me to find the time and the money for that matter to go and get a pair of glasses, but JARC was able to help me get a set of new glasses".
Jorge mentioned that his favorite part of the program was having a schedule. He said that the lack of structure was something that affected him when he was back from military service, but JARC really helped him get back to being goal-oriented. "We achieved every small goal that JARC set for us, whether it was reading books or learning how to read the welding symbols and blueprints. All those small goals are what helped me kind of structure my day to day, and that put me on the right path". He also mentioned that JARC was able to give him all the personal protective equipment necessary to move forward in his career as a welder.
In 2020, Jorge started working as an apprentice with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Local Union #9), making $21.96 per hour. As of November 2022, Jorge is working as an outdoor electrician for the City of Chicago, making $37.28 per hour. He also has some business ideas, like starting his own LLC and buying some machines to start doing welding and electrical jobs. He continues to visit JARC every once in a while: "I really cite JARC as a pivotal moment in my career. If I hadn't found JARC and gone through the program and gotten my welding certification, who knows where I’d be? But JARC definitely defined my future".