Isaiah Harris’ initial interest in construction was sparked when he was a young boy living in Boston, Massachusetts. Years later, after moving with his family to Stone Mountain, that interest was rekindled when he was surrounded by ongoing construction projects at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where he worked in a hospitality position.
Having heard about Construction Ready training, Isaiah enrolled at the Westside Works location, graduated in February 2021, and was hired by a local contractor, MAC Construction, for an entry-level buckhoist operator position. Always eager to learn, he entered Construction Ready PLUS for further training in the spring of 2021. Isaiah’s attitude, work ethic and thirst for knowledge paid off – by summer of 2021, he had been promoted to a labor foreman position. Below, he details his journey to a full-time career in the construction industry.
My first construction experience was when I was in Boston. I want to say I was like 8 or 9. I met this guy at a summer camp I went to. He was laying some carpet and I was really fascinated by it. I asked him, ‘How are you doing that? What are you doing? What are the tools you are using?’ So he was like, ‘Well, over the weekend, if you’re not doing anything and it’s OK with your parents, you can come out here and I’ll show you the tools of the trade. So I came up there that Saturday and he showed me how to lay carpet. It was really cool.
When I moved to Georgia, various neighbors of mine were carpenters, electricians, painters – a lot of different trades – and I got some hands-on experience from them. Also, there were family friends, people who did specific trades, and sometimes they would be looking for someone to help on a weekend, so I would make extra money that way.
When I was working at the airport, I would observe construction projects going on there. After doing that for about a year, being on the sidelines of it, watching people doing construction, it kind of made me miss it. I was like, ‘Yeah, this is what I want to do.’ I don’t want to keep going from job to job; I want to be in my career field.
I started my job [with MAC] as a buckhoist operator. I just pushed a button all day, but working with different people who came in and out of the site, I learned a lot. I’ve been able to help the plumbers out on occasion. I’ve talked to the electricians, the masons, all types of trades, trying to understand what they’re working on, what problems they have and how they figured out how to solve them.
I was looking for some type of construction program that would help me continue to build my knowledge, and I found that with Construction Ready. It has helped dramatically. It’s hard to put into words. It helped me realize what I was missing out on in life, career-wise. It put that passion back into me, to actually go out there and do what I need to do to succeed in life.
It was a really great feeling to find a program like this – one where you can buckle down and in a month’s span, get so much helpful information that you need and can use out there. You really can’t ask for a better opportunity than that.