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Fast Start

Kenneth Gerding

For Kenneth Gerding, attitude and perseverance is everything…especially when it comes down to the humbling experience of losing a job.

Like many, Ken was laid off from TRW Automotive when the plant closed in February 2014. Employees were given numerous opportunities prior to that date to attend informational meetings to learn about services available through Michigan Works! “I personally took full advantage and become self-motivated to get enrolled in the Workforce Investment Act,” he says. “I believe without the support and coaching from Michigan Works, I would not have achieved success and had the opportunity to get into the career field that I’m in now.”

Ken is a Chemical Process Fast Start graduate and full-time employee at Bay County’s Department of Water and Sewer Plant making more money than he did at TRW.

“The first two weeks in college were an adjustment, to say the least,” he admits. “The 13-week Fast Start program seemed at first like it was going to take forever, but time flew. The instructors were awesome. They all have hands-on experience in the field. They knew how to make some dry, boring material educational and interesting. Throughout the whole process, my career manager at Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! was sending me emails regarding job leads and just checking up on my progress.”

Even before applying to Fast Start, Ken experienced tremendous support at Michigan Works! “If you are motivated enough and show that you’re willing to dedicate yourself to achieving success, the staff at Michigan Works! will stand by your side and help you achieve those goals,” he explains. “I will never forget the day that the instructor at Michigan Works who administers the Work Keys testing came out after the test was graded and told me that I passed at the level I wanted. I hugged her!”

After not achieving the scores he wanted and needed a few times, Ken had turned to Michigan Works! for help and practice. His career manager also provided encouragement. “They had faith in me and knew that I would get to that level on my next test,” he remembers. “That’s the difference and the positive attitude that I needed to get through the rough time I was going through.”

Ken felt lucky to gain acceptance into the Fast Start program for Chemical Process Operations. “Throughout my courses at Delta, I gained a wealth of knowledge from the instructors, other support staff, as well as my fellow classmates. I’m still friends and still communicate on a regular basis with a majority of my classmates. My GLB Michigan Works! career manager checked in with us regularly to exchange information and make sure we were doing fine.”

Upon graduating from Fast Start, Ken took a temporary position that could have become permanent but wasn’t in his new field of study. While working, he kept looking for a full-time job in chemical process operations with the help of Michigan Works! And the rest is history!

“Words can’t describe how satisfied and grateful I am that all this hard work and dedication paid off,” Ken says. “I have to thank Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works, Delta College and all the staff from both organizations because, without them, I don’t know where I’d be.”

Ken’s advice to other job seekers? “Go to a Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! service center and get involved,” he advises. “No question is a stupid question and the staff will help you out no matter what. The support and all the tools are available in their office. It just takes YOU to become a success story. I’ve heard this a million times, and doubted for years, but I’m truly a believer now. Anything in life is possible if you have the mindset and the will and desire to do it and put the time in. Take charge of your success and go to Michigan Works! I’m glad I did.”