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Latest Blog Posts

Nory Angel, SER CEO, to leave organization in 2018

Posted December 11

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff at SER-Jobs for Progress, Inc., we would like to share with you that Nory... Read more...

Capital campaign officially kicks off!

Posted September 21

SER publicly announced its Pathways to Potential capital campaign with a news conference held at the site of its new... Read more...

3 SER Amigos Gala Celebration

Posted August 9

3 SER Amigos Gala Honoring Stephen Fraga, Rick Jaramillo and Armando Perez October 6, 2017 Co-Chairs Paige and Bart... Read more...

Keith McCray

Just a little over a year ago, Keith McCray, 25, found himself in an unlikely situation. The oil and gas field was declining and work was minimal –  many laborers were without a job.

As a 2-year pipefitter for Fluor Daniels, Keith was among the many whom were laid off.

“You know, this economy and working in oil & gas, the work was slow at that time,” said Keith.

Instead of jumping back into the workforce and having prior experience as a Welder, Keith wanted to make sure that he stayed true to himself and made sure that his next decision was going to be his best decision.

“Honestly, I wanted to stay in construction,” said Keith. “You can always get a job anywhere – [like] McDonalds, but I’m very stubborn when it comes to what I work in and what I do. I made good money in the oil field. I know how to save my money so there wasn’t a dire urgency - all my bills were paid. I wanted another job doing what I knew how to do – construction.”

Since middle school, Keith had the desire to become an Architect – being able to build things and use his hands, were his niche. “I was the youngest boy of my family,” said Keith.  “My brothers were already out the house when I got older - it was just me, my three sisters, and my mom. I was the boy that wanted to fix things and do the manly stuff around the house…basically doing a service for people.”

When Keith arrived at Workforce solutions, he wanted to explore similar positions of interest but not in the oil and gas industry.

In May 2016, SER contacted Keith to see if would be interested in a pilot, collaboration program, the Marek Workforce Development program, between Marek and SER for an opportunity to become a carpenter. Keith was sold on the program and immediately accepted the offer after speaking with Marek representative.

“Out of 100 applicants…6 were chosen,” said Keith. “It was a fast-track program to become a foreman, a supervisor in construction. [Marek] provided us with our basic NCCER certification & safety training, and a coach who served as a mentor as well. They paid us while we were training.

“To me, there’s a [difference] between and job and career,” said Keith. “A job is just working to pay the bills, [With] a career, you get paid to do what you love to do –there’s a future in it. [Marek] was cut and dry. You get a booklet with all the modules in it…you know what you got to do to get to the next level. It’s a ladder [of advancement] that you can actually see.”

June 23rd, 2016, Keith along with the other 5 classmates, were hired on by Marek and began their yearlong basic level requirements for the program. By working hard and at his own pace, Keith advanced and received a promotion to the Mechanic level in no time.

During the graduation ceremony in July 2017, each student received high praises from their coaches, foreman, and superintendent.

“It was great. A lot of people said good things about you…you got to rub elbows with the big dogs for the night - It was pretty cool,” said Keith.

According to the Superintendent, he described Keith as:  self-motivated, detailed oriented, ambitious, smart, and had a positive attitude. Keith had the attributes of a hard worker and worked good under pressure.

“People don’t speak their minds often, especially if it’s something good,” said Keith. “They will tell you when you’re doing something bad, but it’s rare when they tell you something good - that’s just the nature of the business. It felt good to hear the good comments.”

“[With] what I do now, people wouldn’t have a place to live, work, eat, or go [for] vacations,” said Keith. “I build hotels, condos, and malls…I just did [a project] in the galleria –Saks Fifth. Everyone was posting pictures of it so there’s a sense of accomplishment.”

 “If I mess up now, it’s a big mess up…it cost money now. I learned a machine that only 6 people in the company knows [how to use],” said Keith. As he advances in his career with Marek, Keith hopes to rise to a Foreman position and eventually become a Superintendent himself.

“My advice to [others] would be to make sure [this is] something you want to do,” said Keith. “You don’t want to do something just to earn money. You should be happy [in your career] - just go after it…do it to the fullest and don’t ever give up.”

“Potential is everywhere, but opportunity isn’t – this is a great way to start.”