When ISTC student Darius Strickland attended a job fair on the college’s main campus in fall 2019 he had no idea that a few short months later he would be working for one of the employers attending that event.
Following his release, Strickland and ISTC job placement specialist Jonathan Powers met in Huntsville, where Powers arranged for Strickland to meet with Joe Berry of SJ&L Construction. “Joe had traveled from Huntsville to represent SJ&L at our job fair,” said Powers. “He knew about our programs and the skills our graduates have to offer.”
Powers regularly meets with graduates seeking employment assistance as part of the college’s reentry program. “Our team has reached out to employers across the state,” he explained, “developing a network for sharing information about our programs and our graduates.”
Strickland completed the application process and was ultimately offered a job at SJ&L shortly thereafter. “Just getting a job when I got out was great. There are people out here who weren’t incarcerated who can’t get a job like this,” said Strickland.
Powers said Strickland had taken full advantage of the services offered by ISTC, earning his GED, completing OSHA safety training, participating in reentry workshops, and graduating from the Carpentry program.
“My experience (at ISTC) was great,” Strickland said. “Just having everyone behind me made all the difference, and going to school is way better than just sitting around wasting your time.”
Currently Strickland operates excavating equipment for SJ&L. Although he was not hired as a carpenter, he still finds ways to use his skills. “I was looking at blueprints with my boss and I showed him where we were on the job and he said ‘wow, you know how to read these’ – he couldn’t believe it. We learned a lot in Carpentry, Mr. Lucas is a great teacher.”
Strickland says attending ISTC helped change his life. “ I reflect on that school every day. I’m using what I learned every day. Freedom is the key and what I learned is helping with that.”
Photo: (LEFT) ISTC carpentry graduate Darius Strickland at work, (RIGHT) students at work in the Carpentry lab.