Breaking Barriers

The United States Department of Labor defines a non-traditional career for women as one in which 25% or less of those employed in the field are women. Yashika Jones has been a part of that statistic for nearly 14 years. While living in Connecticut, Jones was employed by the Sheet Metal Union. Working in this industry can often times be demanding, with long hours and unpredictable weather conditions.

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“I wanted a change,” Jones says. “If I’m going to be working outside, I wanted to work outside somewhere where the climate is nice.” In between jobs, Jones saw an advertisement for a job fair at one of Goodwill of North Georgia’s career centers. “I was really interested in the training opportunities available,” she says.

Jones applied for funding and went through an interview process before successfully enrolling in Goodwill’s Highway Construction training program. As a participant in the program, Jones received hands-on skills training and job placement assistance. “When I had nowhere to turn, I learned so much with Goodwill and got some certifications under my belt to help expand my job opportunities,” she says. Upon graduating from the program, Jones received traffic control and OSHA construction certifications. She also secured employment with the local Sheet Metal Workers Union. Some of her projects have included the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Working in a male dominated industry hasn’t always been easy for Jones. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” she says. Over the years, Jones has proven her skillset and hard work ethic to her colleagues. “I’ve had to overcome being accepted for who I am. It’s been intimidating at times, but I’ve proven myself and showed that I am strong,” she says. Never letting her gender keep her from achieving her goals, Jones has remained motivated and hopes to continue advancing her career in the industry. She is currently pursuing another certification, EPA 608 Technician Certification, which would allow her to expand the type of projects she is qualified to work on. “I’m hoping to make myself more marketable, she says.

“Goodwill helped me find opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” she says. As an advocate for the program, Jones has referred many of her friends to Goodwill. “One of my greatest accomplishments is seeing my friends go through the program and come out successful,” Jones says. Crediting Goodwill for the opportunity to reenter the industry, she is now not only an advocate for Goodwill, but for women.

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