Diversity Career Stories Maintenance

Maintenance worker finds faith and turns away from life of crime

Maintenance worker finds faith and turns away from life of crimeAre you handy and interested in a career where you can use your hands? In this interview with an apartment maintenance worker, he shares how through his faith and job training, he has been able to turn his life around, from dealing drugs and spending time in prison, to becoming a family man with a steady job who shares his faith with anyone who will hear.

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives

I am a maintenance technician in the the apartment industry. I would describe myself as assertive, patient, and optimistic.

How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

It can be really tiring but yet fulfilling. There’s a certain joy I get out of having a problem, finding it, and repairing it. Not just anyone can’t do this job you have to be a people person.

What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best? Do you speak another language, and has it been helpful in your career?

I am African American, and it hasn’t hurt me.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

I have to say a 10. I love what I do.

If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

It does move my heart. I get to meet and encounter all sorts of people and work with my hands. A smile or kind word can make a major difference in someone’s day.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

Before working this job, I was in prison with no skills at all. I had dealt drugs up until that point. Four years later, I’ve turned my life around. I have a wife and family and the best part of it all is I became a minister. I’m able to tell all these people about the love of Jesus!

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

I heard from a friend about a grounds keeper job that was open. I applied and got the job. I learned as much as I could, and was promoted to maintenance technician. I wouldn’t change a thing.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

If you’re in an apartment making a repair and see another potential problem, fix it. I was in a unit repairing a faucet and heard the toilet running and pretty much ignored it. Well, a couple of weeks later I got a call after hours. That same toilet was stopped up and because it was running it flooded half the unit! So now, no matter what I’m in the unit for, if I see a problem I fix it!

What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

You must learn to deal with different personalities

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

I went to a unit to repair a garbage disposal. The resident let me in and went upstairs. I completed my work, and called for the lady to sign the work request. To my surprise she came down stark naked!

I was so nervous I left my step ladder there, which I needed for my next work request. I searched for that ladder all day. The next day my manager called me to the office to tell me I had left a ladder in that resident’s apartment. Yes, it may have had something to do with her coming down stairs naked!

Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

I go to work each day to provide for my family. One thing that made me feel very good was that I was replacing a kitchen light once and through my conversation with the resident, and the work of the Holy Spirit, the elderly resident got saved. She was 62 years old. That had to be the best feeling ever to lead her to Christ.

What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?

Nothing makes me want to quit, but its really hard talking to a resident who has a problem with management.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

It’s stressful when I have to leave out of the pulpit at church when I’m on call at the apartment complex. I try to keep a healthy work-life balance balance by leaving work at work and home at home.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

$22,000 to about $30,000. I think I am underpaid, but I am thankful for what I have.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

I get two weeks of vacation a year it’s enough for me.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

You should have a HVAC certification, as well as skills in carpentry, plumbing, painting, minor electrical, appliance repair, heating and air conditioning.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

It’s not for everyone.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

I would be contracting doing this kind of work for myself.