Cesar Reza dropped out of high school to work and support himself and his family. But it wasn’t long before Cesar realized that he wanted a better life – and that meant going back to school and obtaining his GED.
His cousin had followed a similar trajectory, and had found a successful career path thanks to Mile High Youth Corps’ YouthBuild program in Denver. In the summer of 2014, Cesar decided to give the program a try to see if it could work for him, too.
Through the program, Cesar was exposed to a variety of career fields. The area that interested him most was the skilled trades, and he became determined to pursue an electrical apprenticeship.
After completing the required number of hours for his AmeriCorps Education Award and earning his GED, Cesar applied at Greiner Electric − a Mile High Youth Corps employer partner − and was hired on June 1 as a first-year electrical apprentice.
“I’m learning the basics of electricity, including how it works, and it’s a great job for me,” Cesar said. “I want to work at a job that motivates me, and this motivates me.”
In early September, as part of his apprenticeship, Cesar began classes at the Construction Industry Training Council in Denver. He attends class on Tuesdays from 5 to 9 p.m. and works 40 hours a week as an apprentice.
Cesar, whose career goal is now to become a journeyman electrician, says his experience in the YouthBuild program is teaching him “not to take the easy way out, and the importance of making better, smarter choices that will help me in the future.”
If you (or a young person you know) would like to earn a high school diploma while obtaining valuable job credentials and leadership experience, learn more about our YouthBuild program.
Editor’s note: The “DOL Working for You” series highlights the Labor Department’s programs in action. View other blog posts in the series here.
Diana Petterson is the department’s regional director of public affairs in Dallas.