Before Roland found the SJI Welding program, he was looking for a good job that could provide him with, as he says so genuinely, “a vocational voice and financial freedom”. Up until that point, he had been working in shorter-term welding jobs here and there, but he found it was becoming harder and harder to pick up jobs without official certifications, training or even a resume.
“It used to be I could just walk into a shop and do a welding test, show them my skills, do a little blueprint test, and grab the job. And it was easy back in the day to not have a resume or a cover letter and all the technical degrees or certifications that you need now. That’s what motivated me, because I knew I wasn’t going to get too far, and it was getting really hard to get those welding jobs, especially in the Recession, and to be paid the pay rate that I wanted to make.”
A friend recommended the SJI program, and Roland started in January 2012. The initial feelings of anxiety and nervousness about being back in school fell away as he experienced the support and encouragement of the instructors, career navigators, SJI staffers, and other students in his cohort.
“SJI is offering you so much more than just going out and getting a textbook. It’s teaching math, it’s teaching soft skills, life skills, work ethic, computer skills and you’re learning quite a bit. You get counseling, career navigator, and your transportation is taken care of. I encourage people to not just give it a shot, but fully involve yourself in this program.”
When we first spoke with Roland and interviewed him for student success story video, he was a couple days away from earning his first welding certification and completing two full quarters of job skills training. Today, Roland has successfully completed four quarters of welding skills training and is working towards his 2-year certificate at South Seattle Community College.