“My name is Erin Cox. I'm 29. I'm originally from Southeastern Illinois, but I was stationed at Fort Hood in the Army. I was there for three years. I went to Afghanistan for five months during that time.
I got out of the Army in February of 2011 and I started at Lone Star College in the fall of that year. I got my associate's degree, and then I went to University of Houston and I was working on my bachelor's degree. I was three classes away from graduating when my [military funding] ran out. I had been living on my [veteran’s benefits] from that, so I had to try to find a job without technically having a bachelor's degree.
I was kind of in a weird place, because I had already finished most of the classes that would've counted for my field, but I didn't technically graduate. I was looking for a job for almost two months. I went to everything - I put in tons of resumes online, and tried to lean on veteran's resources as much as I could. But I was having a hard time.
My boyfriend's sister was the one who told me about SER. I emailed Buddy [Oviol, SER Workforce Development Lead for Veterans and THRIVE] and set up a meeting. I came in and he got me on an email list for jobs. Also, during that time SER was able to help me pay my electricity bill, which I just found out was through the United Way.
After a couple of weeks, Buddy referred me to the Lone Star Veterans Association and the Warrior for Life luncheon. So I went to the luncheon, and I met Mia Garcia from NextOp
. I told her what I was looking for, showed her my resume, and she said, ‘oh, hey, I know someone that needs somebody like you, like, yesterday. They really need to hire somebody.’ So she literally took a picture of my resume with her phone and texted it to the recruiter with Adaptive Construction Solutions
. And he called me within the hour and set up an interview for the next day. So the luncheon was on a Thursday, I got an interview on Friday, and my first day was Tuesday of the next week. It was really fast.
My official title is Administrative Specialist. [At Adaptive Construction Solutions] we hire veterans to do ironworking. We recruit them and vet them, and then they go to 96 hours of NCCER training. After that, they immediately go to a job site. They're actually hired from day one of training. After they've been recruited, and they're done talking to the recruiter, I'm their next line of contact. They still call me sometimes after they've graduated if they have issues or anything like that, just because I'm the person they've talked to the most. Because that's another draw of this program: the job is really hard, but they get to work with veterans every day, and we create a support system during the apprenticeship where they can come to us any time they have personal problems. We have a lot of connections with the veteran community, so we can help them find the resources they need.
Life is good. I like my job, because it's kind of human resources. I majored in sociology, and minored in psychology, so human resources does kind of fall under that umbrella. I want to finish my bachelor's degree, see where that goes. Maybe get promoted here when I finish. Ultimately I would like to do sociology research, policy research, things like that.”
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