Jon’s Story

An Interview with an SJI Welding Graduate: Jon

“My name is Jonathan, and SJI has given me a second chance and new future for me and my family.”

When did you start the SJI program, and tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you started the program?
Before starting the program, I had a lot of construction experience, but that was also before I had been into a lot of trouble. I started back in January, but then ended up having to put off my training until March.

What motivated you to be interested in job skills training?
I’ve always been good with my hands, and I knew that if I just put myself to something, I could probably do really good at it – not to mention that I’ve got three kids, and I want them to have a good future. I know there are good jobs and good money out there in welding.

Describe your experiences in the program.
My experience in the program has been great. I knew I could be good at this work if I applied myself, but I didn’t know exactly how good I could be. It’s been working for me – the motivation and the determination to get things done has really helped me out – not only with what I see as my future, but also with my self-esteem and with my life in general, too.

Can you talk a little more about the aspect of teamwork in the program?
Personally, I help tutor students with their math, so they can keep their math grades up. There are a lot of students here, and some of them are a little ahead, and they’ll take the time to show another person who’s a little behind how to get the hang of it. Whether it be the bookwork, the shop work, the math – we’re all here with the ultimate goal to get this done, and we all come from different walks of life. A lot of the people here have somewhat of a criminal history or background, and none of us want to go back to that, nor do we want to see each other go back to that either. They might just be my classmates, but I kind of see us as a team completely, because we’re a class, and we’re in this with the same goals – to get the program done, to be safe, to help each other out, and accomplish our goals.

What was the most valuable skill you got in the program?
The most valuable skill was I’d say were all the performance skills – showing up on time, being accountable, paying attention – as well as the welding skills. And just knowing now how to read a puddle, set up my machine, and where I’m at now is a skill that I’ll have forever. I love coming to school for that it’s been an awesome program.

Is there anything else you’d like to add or share?
This is a great program and thank you for having the program for us to work with. Like I said, all of us come from different walks of life, and they don’t have these programs everywhere. They really don’t. And if they did, it wouldn’t be with the kind of assistance we get here. It’s awesome that you give us an opportunity to make something of our lives. A lot of us had lost hope in our lives and for getting a second chance, and you guys have given us a second chance, and I really appreciate it.