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Jeff Simons

Jeff Simons

Jeff started his new full-time position as a Chemical Process Operator with The Dow Chemical Company on July 14, making 20% more than his wage at TRW plus benefits. Looking back to December 2013 when TRW announced its plans to close the plant in Saginaw in early 2014, Jeff is glad he decided to act quickly and take advantage of Fast Start and other services offered by Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works!

Like 600+ of his co-workers, Jeff was surprised when TRW announced its closing. He had worked there seven years and was the main source of income for his family of five. “I felt like our lives were being turned upside down,” he remembers. “Up until this point in my life, I had never been unemployed. I was deeply concerned, because of Michigan’s economy, that there would be no way to find employment here that would match what I was accustomed to.”

Jeff heard about Fast Start from Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! and decided to attend an orientation session at Delta College, where representatives from Dow, Dow Corning and Hemlock Semiconductor were present and gave descriptions of the work and projected hiring needs for the near future.

Jeff decided he would put everything he had into getting into the program, though he admits he was nervous about using 13 of his 20 weeks of unemployment to go through the accelerated training with no guarantee of employment. He also hadn’t been in classroom in 22 years! What kept him going was a “great chance” at employment that might even surpass what he was used to doing at TRW.

The next day after the Fast Start orientation, he went to Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works to make an appointment to take the required Work Keys tests.  “I was greeted by friendly, caring people,” he explains. “It was very evident that everyone was sincere about helping. I felt like I was their only customer even though the place was full or people.”

Jeff was ultimately accepted into the Chemical Process Fast Start class because of his technical background and diligence in meeting necessarily requirements quickly. “Everyone in the program is so passionate about making sure we were successful and ultimately employed,” he says. Though the training is fast paced and thorough, Jeff observed that instructors understood that many students hadn’t been in school for long time and were helpful in many ways.

After graduation, Jeff received the call for an interview at Dow Chemical. “Our household was pretty excited,” he says. “Then I got call offering me a position. It was such a relief. All I could say is ‘we made it.’”

Since accepting a position with Dow Chemical, Jeff has been contacted by several more employers because of the skill set he developed in Fast Start. He is amazed by the possibilities that he has now.

“It wasn’t easy,” he says, “but with the help of my family and the partnership of Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works and Delta College, it was a memorable and worthwhile experience.”