Like some Construction Ready students, Monique Erkins came into the program with a certain level of experience. But completing the curriculum and earning eight industry-recognized credentials boosted her professional life in a way that she can very much put a value on.
“The credentials helped me get a raise at my job,” says Monique, who helps build and repair ships with BAE Systems at Jacksonville’s Naval Station Mayport. “We were starting at $16 [an hour], but because of my credentials, I got a $3 raise. So I started at $19 and I’ve been working my way up. Now I’m at $26.80.”
Monique had some welding experience prior to discovering Construction Ready, and she says she had picked up some construction tips from her stepfather, but “as far as learning how to actually do it the right way, no.”
She had a friend who was enrolled in the program and convinced her to give it a try herself. “She told me about it and she was like, ‘You know, you have a lot of experience already. You might as well go ahead and try it out.’ She said it was free and even though we wouldn’t get paid for it, we would get credentials and a career, and I was like, ‘OK, you had me at career.’”
“I like to feel like I actually did something,” she says. “When I build something, I can look back on it and be like, ‘Hey, I was a part of that. I helped put that Navy ship together.’ I see [sailors] standing on a ship I worked on and it makes me feel good.
“Graduating from the program has given me credentials that I never would have been able to achieve and helped me get a job that someone else could have had if I wasn’t qualified.”