by Jamie Brown

Anne came to the workNet DuPage Career Center in July of 2018 seeking a career after nearly two decades of working dead-end jobs and living paycheck to paycheck. After doing research into various occupations and speaking with subject-matter experts, she enrolled in the Welding Certificate program at College of DuPage (COD) with the assistance of a WIOA training grant. Anne was not intimidated by the fact that welding is traditionally a male-dominated occupation. She pursued the career track because she enjoys working with her hands and being creative. What’s more, she knew the occupation would provide her with a high-paying career, job security and satisfaction.

After working a series of dead-end jobs for nearly twenty years, Anne is happier and well on her way to providing for her son.

Anne started the Welding Certificate program in the Fall of 2018. Shortly thereafter, she was hired by one of her professors as a Machinist Apprentice in his tool and die company. This provided Anne with the extra income she needed to meet her financial obligations and the opportunity to gain the hands-on skills necessary in the field. Since being hired in January of 2019, Anne has taken over the welding for the company and they have offered to pay for additional schooling to get a tool and die maker certificate next fall, along with a promotion to a Tool and Die Apprentice.

“I went from being in customer service for 17 years stuck in a dead-end job, to losing my most recent job due to medical reasons. I received a chance to get a grant from workNet to pursue a new career, took it, got past my medical issues and have worked my butt off to succeed despite numerous issues in my personal life. I’m using this opportunity to its fullest potential to make a better life for myself and my son.” ~ Anne Lesko

Since enrolling in the program at COD, Anne’s career goals have expanded. When she came to workNet DuPage, she was focused solely on welding, but her employment has exposed her to other areas; she is now interested in fabrication, machining as well as tool and die.  Anne has realized just how many opportunities the training has opened up for her and is excited about the possibilities; possibilities that did not exist prior to receiving the WIOA training grant.

Anne has managed to maintain a GPA of 3.8 despite facing obstacles life has thrown at her along the way. She has moved twice, was forced to purchase a new car after someone totaled her car and has dealt with significant medical issues. Despite these obstacles, Anne remains focused on completing her training and advancing her career.

Anne has described the impact of the WIOA training grant: “I went from being in customer service for 17 years stuck in a dead-end job, to losing my most recent job due to medical reasons. I got a chance to get a grant from workNet to pursue a new career, took it, got past my medical issues and have worked my butt off to succeed despite numerous issues in my personal life. I’m using this opportunity to its fullest potential to make a better life for myself and my son.”

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