Once unemployed, this newly hired father expressed himself through poetry while struggling to find a job
Who is John Collins?
Race / ethnicity (self identify): African-American
Resident: Southwest neighborhood, Syracuse, New York
Job status: HIRED! … after being unemployed since fall 2015
Brief work history: Electrician, technician, forklift, mechanic and machine operator
Last job: Technician at United Radio fixing Nintendo games and radios
Hourly wage at United Radio: About $13 an hour
Education level: High school diploma and certification from Oconee Fall Line Technical College in Sandersville, Georgia
Number of children: 5 daughters and 1 son
Number of residents living in household: 2, including his son, who is 14
John Collins landed a job less than two months after he was interviewed for this Q/A. As of the beginning of April 2016, Collins has been working as a mechanic at Airport Lighting Company in Manlius, New York. Starting hourly wage: $13.50. After five to six weeks, his hourly wage could increase, he says. Collins’ certification made him an attractive candidate; five years ago, he received his computer numerically controlled (CNC) operator certification. His job entails wiring and putting in pad lights at Syracuse Hancock International Airport. Trisha Cain, who is Collins’ job coach at Visions for Change, says he is looking for employment where he doesn’t have to job hop — which she defined as his going from job to job every three months because of income. “He has good experience in mechanics and a lot of good work history. The airport (new job) should be a good opportunity.”Read on for Collins’ insights, which he shared while he was unemployed.Q: Can you describe your special skills?
A: Being analytical as well as a perfectionist. I pay attention to detail very well.
Q: What did you like most about the last job you had?
A: I enjoyed working (at United Radio) with other employees that were willing to work. It’s just being around positive people who have a drive and a desire to do better. It’s more than just getting up in the morning to get a check.
Q: How do you get around Syracuse?
A: Public transportation
Q: Right now, what is your biggest challenge you face daily?
A: Trying to find a job that’s able to provide for my family. I’m still not able to get a job equivalent to my education and my experience. I’m not in a position that I can take an $8 an hour or $9 an hour job. Just my son alone is more expensive than that. I can’t live off of it.
Q: What are your options for job searching in Syracuse?
A: Currently I’m in the process of enhancing myself in areas that I feel like I may have been deprived of. At Visions for Change, I work on my computer skills and my communication skills … so there’s no room for employers to overlook me.
Q: What do you want others to know about you as an unemployed person?
A: I would try to get them to understand that it’s a fighting situation that makes a person feel discouraged. A lot of people can’t handle life at the same measure as everyone else, and they need a little bit of support.
Q: What gives you hope?
A: God. If I didn’t encounter him personally, I would have given up. That’s my sanity, my peace and my tranquility.
Q: What causes you to feel discouraged?
A: What’s most discouraging is not having the opportunity given that many are given. How do I raise my son up to believe he has a chance when I’m not given that chance? You’re put in a limbo of trying to make right or wrong choices. Do you sink or do you swim? A lot of the times when you’re thrown in deep, before you float, you know you’re about to drown.
Q: What is a typical weekend like for you?
A: My son is into sports, so I’m always at some type of sports game. You’ll see me in the stands somewhere.
Q: Do you have a hobby? What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I love to express myself. In my free time I’m indulging in some form of art, whether it is photography, painting, writing or poetry. Those are my passions.
Q: What is the job you would like to have now?
A: I really want to create something, like a nonprofit, that’s a safe haven where people feel peaceful. I’m trying to incorporate the things that people.
If you’ve been following this series by Inspiration for the Nation, it’s now a good time to take stock of your level of financial preparedness, particularly in today’s uncertain business/political climate.