Amanda Zuniga, then a 21 year-old mother of one, knew she wanted to work with her hands, but lacked any practical knowledge or skills to get hired.
“I came to SER because I needed a little boost of confidence to actually reach my goals,” Amanda says. She came to SER in 2014 and after working with her career coach, determined a pathway to help her reach her career objectives. After completing the NCCER Core Curriculum and OSHA-10, the SER team connected Amanda with Fisk Electric Co, where she was hired through a union-based apprenticeship program, earning $14.08 an hour.
Feeling the pressure as the primary breadwinner in her household, Amanda enrolled in financial coaching in September 2014 and worked with her financial coach to set goals, like raising her 569 credit score and began tracking her budget. After opening a savings account in October 2014, Amanda paid off a collection debt and had it removed from her credit report.
“My experience working with the coaches was great,” Amanda says. “The financial coach gave me information about my credit score. There’s a lot of things that I didn’t know about a credit score. So just to be able to have somebody that knows what it is, and how it works, and to be able to ask them all those questions. Sometimes I find myself not knowing what questions to ask, but they have the answer before I even ask the question.”
Amanda continued to work toward her financial and careers goals in her apprenticeship, earning $16.03 an hour. Unfortunately, Fisk was forced to downsize in late January 2016 and Amanda was laid off.
After some retooling of her resume, refresher workshops, and a couple of Job Connections meetings, SER helped Amanda get hired in early March 2016 as an electrical apprentice with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, earning $18.15 an hour. Shortly after starting her new job, Amanda opened a Chase checking account and saw a modest increase in her credit score.
As she continues to support her husband and two young sons in a job she enjoys, Amanda is working with her financial coach to strategically pay down her student loan debt, increase her emergency savings, and connect with resources that will help her reach her five-year goal of buying land and building a house.
“I did vocational training, I did job readiness, and I’ve talked to a financial coach,” Amanda says. “It seems like only three things, but it’s the three things that are going to set me up for life. I’ve got a path now, and I’m taking steps forward.”
For more information on SER’s Financial Opportunity Center and how you can schedule your own appointment with a financial coach, click here