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Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith, 58, had worked as an independent contractor for most of his life. A decline in demand combined with a family crisis forced Jeff to leave his job in 2015. After 2 years out of the workforce, Jeff struggled to find employment, so he was referred to SER. Soon after meeting with SER’s team, Jeff accepted a Building Services Assistant position with the Museum of Fine Arts – Houston and is looking forward to his future.

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In his nearly 20 years as a truck driver, Jeff Smith had spent countless days away from home and his family. But when his grandmother became seriously ill (amongst other circumstances), he left his job to care for her.

“In 2015, I quit working for [the trucking company],” said Jeff. “There wasn’t any work anymore. I couldn’t make any more money. I [had been] making on average around $50,000-$80,000 a year depending on how much I worked.”

Two years later, after his grandmother passed away, 58-year old Jeff needed to find employment that was close to home and would allow him to keep up with his bills. Jeff wanted to find a job that matched his experience.

 “I had money saved up from work, but I burned through that when I stopped working for [the trucking company]. I spent all of my savings,” said Jeff. “It was hard being off from work and staying home is not as fun as you [might think]. It was very hard for me to adjust. I have been dealing with it the best I can…trying to stay positive.”

In July 2017, Jeff visited his local Workforce Solutions career office, where he was advised to visit SER to see about upcoming trainings or employment opportunities that might be available and that would be a good fit for him.

“There were a few things that I had done, like [working with] Workforce Solutions to revise my resume or attend job seminars, but none of that ever worked out for me, said Jeff. “I was told that if I put in ten applications, I would get at least five interviews out of ten applications. I didn’t have the money to go to five interviews. I was broke. I needed a job.”

“I went and spoke with Buddy Oviol, [SER’s Workforce Development Lead]. I was interested in taking the Warehouse Forklift class, but something happened and I was not able to get in. I was [disappointed], but Buddy called me back to let me know that SER had a few job opportunities for me [to consider].

Jeff was elated with the outstanding services provided by Buddy and the SER employment services team.

“I was really happy with that,” said Jeff. “Buddy came through for me – [SER] really helped me.”

Jeff soon accepted a Building Services Assistant position with the Museum of Fine Arts – Houston. He is looking forward to gaining new skills in his new career and eventually being promoted.

“The really important thing that’s cool about this job is that they are going to train me to become an engineer…a stage engineer,” said Jeff. “That’s what really got my attention. I am able to work my way up to be a 1st grade stage engineer. I had to google it. It will take about 2-3 years, but it’s worth it.”

“They also have really awesome benefits. Being an independent contractor for 20 years plus, I hadn’t had benefits for a long time. I just love it…it feels like a new lease on life.”

Now that Jeff has a great new job with a career path that he will enjoy for years to come, he plans on giving his home needed repairs and eventually purchasing a new vehicle.

“There’s a huge demand [for] engineers right now because a lot of them have retired,” said Jeff. “It’s hard to find great engineers. I plan on sticking with this company – I am not going anywhere.”