From destitute to driven – Walker Jackson takes flight
CARSON CITY – The ups and downs Walker Jackson, 20, experiences these days are far different from the ups and downs he experienced growing up and struggling to find his way as an adult. Jackson, with the help of JOIN Inc., Northern Nevada’s workforce development agency, landed a position as a maintenance worker at the Minden-Tahoe Airport at more than double the wage he’d been eking out on his own washing windows or doing other odd jobs.
“I’ve never made this much money,” he said. “It’s a nice step up and it really helps.”
Jackson moved from Truckee to the Carson Valley after losing his job to be near family. With his job at the airport, he is able to save money to move into a place of his own soon, which will be a welcome relief from more turbulent times.
“It’s smooth and peaceful here,” he said. “I went from welfare to aviation. I thought aviation was so high end and far out there, I never saw myself working in it. Now I’m learning new skills to enable me to be more stable than doing odd jobs.”
Jackson contacted JOIN looking for help. JOIN’s career counselors interviewed him and administered their career exploration assessment, which revealed potential occupation options based on his values, interests and aptitudes.
With JOIN’s financial support and professional development coaching, Jackson earned his commercial driver’s license.
For Chris Johnson, operations supervisor for the airport, Jackson, coming in with his CDL, was the ideal candidate, and through JOIN’s Work Experience program, the airport received reimbursement for up to 12 weeks’ wages for Jackson.
“We had essentially two new employees at the same time,” Johnson said. “A new hire is not always productive right off the bat and JOIN’s Work Experience program eases the financial burden of on-boarding new employees. It wouldn’t have been feasible to bring on two new people at the same time without JOIN.”
Kathy Halbardier, JOIN’s regional manager for the Carson region, said as soon as Jackson went through the process, she knew he was a perfect fit for the open maintenance position at the Minden-Tahoe Airport.
“The great thing about what we do is we get to know people who go through our process, and we work closely with our community partners like the airport,” Halbardier said. “It’s how we knew Walker would be a perfect fit and he’d have the perfect mentor in Chris.”
Jackson is now working to obtain his OSHA and forklift certifications, which are paid for by JOIN.
“With more skillsets learned, the more beneficial he becomes to the airport,” Halbardier said. “In addition to the value we provide with Work Experience wage subsidies, the extra training we can give our clients helps them move up the ladder and become even more valuable to the employer.”
JOIN Inc. covers all of Northern Nevada’s 13 counties and has seven regional offices in Reno, Carson City, Elko, Ely, Winnemucca, Fallon and Fernley. For more information on JOIN Inc. programs for career seekers and employers, visit www.join.org, or contact Denise Castle, executive director, at (775) 461-3930 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About JOIN Inc.
JOIN Inc. is a private, non-profit workforce development agency. JOIN Inc is a 501 (c)(3) and receives private donations and grants, along with state and federal grant funding. Services are provided at no cost to both job seekers and employers. The organization provides access to career training in each of its local job markets and in industry sectors with the most employment potential for clients who meet eligibility requirements.