Lapeer County – Maria came to this country when she was 25 years old dreaming of a better life and hoping for more opportunities than what was available to her in Mexico. She had recently finished a 4-year degree in International Business and was working as a teacher, but her family’s needs exceeded her earning capacity, even with a college degree. When the opportunity came to move to the U.S., she did not hesitate. Upon arrival, until recently, she worked 2-3 jobs, spending what little time was left to take ESL classes, and any free training she could enroll in.
Through hard work and dedication, she was able to move up to supervisory and assistant manager positions. She still worked in manufacturing, as she was not able to transfer her credits or degree to secure a professional job. “It is easy to say it”, she recalls, “but it was very hard work.” It was physical and draining as she was always facing lay-offs, which started the job search process all over again.
Maria had been utilizing GST Michigan Works! Lapeer Service in 2007. Most of the time, she visited just long enough to register for work and immediately would focus all her efforts on re-employment. As a result, she was never unemployed for very long.
Relume Technologies allowed her to take on more responsibilities in quality and as a team leader. When the company closed its doors in 2016, it was devastating professionally, as she had grown with the company, but also financially to her family. This time, Maria took a little longer in the service center and realized that it was time to re-evaluate her situation. Considering training was not easy as it would mean restructuring her life to maybe only work one job, but she knew that it was time for a change. She was a single parent, had recently purchased her first home and had many responsibilities weighing heavy on her heart.
As an English language learner, she realized that she would need to work on improving her knowledge of the English language and met regularly with Family Literacy in Lapeer. At first, she states that it was overwhelming and felt that she would never achieve her goals, but with time and dedication, she raised her literacy levels to college readiness in a few short months. Over the course of 18 months, she completed the training application 3 times, before everything finally fell into place and she could attend school while working minimal hours to achieve her goals.
The first step in training was gaining computer literacy skills to either allow her to move up in manufacturing or transition to a clerical position. It worked. Upon completion, Pinnacle Foods in Imlay City hired her to work in their lab, but it was only seasonal employment. Her newly acquired skills and experience raised her wages to $15.00 per hour and upon the end of that season, she was faced with two very good opportunities. A permanent quality position with Samsung or working for GST Michigan Works!
In reviewing her opportunities, she realized what she was able to accomplish with the help of GST MI Works! and wanted to be a part of helping others that were in a similar situation. Having transitioned from one industry to another and all the difficulties that changing careers can bring, she felt uniquely qualified to encourage others to not give up and reassure them that, “Yes, you can find a way”.
Today, Maria is working in our GST Michigan Works! Lapeer Service Center and has made it her mission to connect with those workers that are laid off and looking for new opportunities.