Hands-On Visionary

Jonesha Arnold Has a Versatile Skill Set and a Big-Picture View to Help Others

Jonesha Arnold’s construction career is still in its early stages, relatively speaking, but she’s already developed a versatile skill set. Need a door framed or some drywall hung? She can do that. How about a load of gravel hauled to a job site? She’s got that covered, too.

Through a combination of classes from Construction Ready – both the Pre-Apprenticeship and Construction Ready PLUS curriculums – as well as training from Westside Works and Goodwill Industries, Jonesha has earned more than a dozen industry credentials and developed a can-do attitude that’s positioned her for ongoing success.

“If I go to any job, I cannot say, ‘I don’t know how to do this, I don’t know how to do that,’” Jonesha says. “I have the proof that I do know how to do it.”

Jonesha’s journey into the skilled trades began in 2019, after jobs with DHL and Amazon left her unfulfilled and she began seeking more training. She began with Goodwill in DeKalb County, where she earned forklift, heavy machinery, and Class A CDL certifications; developed a business plan; and launched an LLC, P&J Trucking.

Two years later, seeking instruction in building skills because she wanted to help her mother with home renovations, she discovered Construction Ready through a Google search. She applied for the Pre-Apprenticeship program at Westside Works, a CR partner whose services include job readiness training and financial literacy counseling. Both organizations helped advance her career and became ongoing support systems.

“When I finished the class, I was able to come up to Westside Works and, say, if I still needed help finding a job, I could come talk to them,” Jonesha says. “It was very informational. I liked that.”

With the hands-on skills she gained in Construction Ready’s 20-day Pre-Apprenticeship “boot camp,” Jonesha has built a garage, added a deck, and installed a wooden fence around her mother’s property. Next up is a remodel of the home’s interior.

Her initial job placement was to be a hydrovac truck position with a company that makes natural gas pipelines, but it didn’t work out because she wasn’t yet proficient with a manual transmission. Construction Ready’s retention team was able to step in and connect her to Ujamaa Construction, a diversity construction contractor with offices in Atlanta and Chicago. During her time with Ujamaa, Jonesha’s work include time on Microsoft’s Atlantic Yards facility in West Midtown Atlanta.

“I drove down there recently and could see that it came out really nice. I loved it!” she says. “To see it go from when they were building it to what it is now, it’s crazy.”

Jonesha continued her skills training by enrolling in Construction Ready PLUS in spring of 2022. CR PLUS, which is designed for CR Pre-Apprenticeship graduates and is made possible by generous support from The Home Depot Foundation, helped Jonesha learn practical applications such as advanced power tools and blueprint reading. Her group built a wooden fence for a local nonprofit center.

“I like that we learned how the tools are supposed to be handled properly … and how we actually went out and built the fence,” she says.

Jonesha developed considerable confidence with blueprints, saying the training “made a big difference. I’m to the point where I can understand blueprints, and I could never understand those before. Now, I’m top tier. Put a blueprint in front of me and I can tell you, from left to right, what this is, what that is. I can tell you how it’s supposed to be.”

In 2023, Jonesha leveraged a connection she had with ER Snell, a Snellville-based road and bridge construction company, to begin work as a driver. She delivers asphalt, sand, and gravel to road construction sites, a job in which no two days are alike, thanks to the variety of people she meets and locations she visits.

Having benefitted from the work of Construction Ready, Westside Works and others, Jonesha hopes to similarly help others one day, whether it’s training them to break into the industry providing home repairs to residents in low-income neighborhoods.

“I just want people to know that there’s still people out here who care and who are willing to help,” she says. “Don’t give up hope. That’s kind of the vision I have for myself in my career.”

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