Success Story: Yolanda
Breaking into a male-dominated industry is no small feat for a woman due to challenges such as gender bias and lack of specialized training. But for Yolanda Payne, a graduate of Goodwill’s Construction Skills Training program, opportunities to excel and win recognition in the workplace are always available, regardless of sex.
“I had always been interested in construction,” said Yolanda. “But I had concerns that it may be a difficult fit because it is such a heavily male-dominated industry.” Yolanda first heard about the Construction Skills Training program from a Goodwill team member while she was on medical leave from her job. While the program captured her interest, six months passed before she decided to take the plunge and enroll. “I was at a point in my life where I decided that if things were going to happen, I needed to go ahead and do them,” she said.
She entered the seven-week program as one of only two women in the class. “At the beginning, I felt a little defensive because of the gender disparity,” she noted. “But I soon realized that if you could do all of the work, there was plenty of opportunity to prove your value.”
And prove her value she did. Yolanda was awarded the Craftsmanship Award at graduation, due to her passion for creating things with her hands. “I can’t sit still,” she laughs. “I like repurposing old materials into new, functional items.”
Participating in the class also linked Yolanda to new educational opportunities. She is currently completing coursework towards her Associate’s degree in Construction Management Technologies at Central Piedmont Community College, and plans to pursue a Construction Management degree from UNC-Charlotte in the future. She credits her Goodwill experience for helping her focus on new career goals.
“It’s been a long time since I felt so motivated and excited about working towards a goal,” said Yolanda. “This has been a great opportunity to come along for me.”
Have you ever pursued a job in a nontraditional industry? What lessons did you learn?