Braille Ntouloulou has something to say – “I’d like to address this message especially to those who English is not their first language. Don’t let your foreign accent stop you from pursuing your goals. Don’t underestimate yourself; you’re capable enough.”
Since immigrating to the United States three years ago, Braille has studied English at Central Piedmont Community College and completed two courses with Goodwill University, but he’s not done yet.
Braille worked as a civil engineer in his home country, Congo Brazzaville, and wanted to do similar work in the U.S. He knew a little English upon his arrival but wanted to learn more. After taking English classes for a year and a half, he found Goodwill through the recommendation of his advisor and enrolled in its construction and trade stills training program.
The road he travelled to get where he is now wasn’t always smooth. “Because I had to take Goodwill evening classes, I had to quit my job for about five months just to complete my training. I was working from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., and it was tough to attend the classes. In fact, I switched from a full-time job to a part-time job. It wasn’t easy, and I struggled to pay my bills.”
Braille successfully completed Goodwill’s free Construction Basics and Blueprint Reading and Estimating courses, and despite the challenges, is not looking back. “Today, I cannot regret the decision that I made because I like my job and it fits best my need.”
Braille was one of a few Goodwill students to receive funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act from the City of Charlotte. This funding paid for his OSHA certification.
His work in Congo Brazzaville overlaps with the work he wants to do in the U.S. The principles are similar, but regulations and standard operating procedures vary country to country. “I just needed a little training and a certificate to get back into the field.” Believe it or not, Braille says his favorite part of taking courses was being tested. “I like to be examined. I was waiting for that moment!”
Goodwill not only offers industry-focused training free of charge, it also provides its participants with the social capital needed to break into a new field. “My career navigator helped me a lot with my resume and mock interviews. I remember we had three mock interviews with her. That was very interesting and helped me a lot to get ready. I’m so grateful for her.”
Braille started work as an electrical estimator in December 2020 and now earns a sustaining wage. In this role, he is responsible for calculating the quantity and cost of all of the equipment, wiring and cables needed for a project, in order to win bids for the company.
“So far, I like the job very much. I am very grateful for Goodwill because Goodwill has done so many things for me. If I didn’t study construction basics and blueprint reading at Goodwill, I wouldn’t get this job,” he said.
Braille’s dream job is to be a civil engineer again. His current job is a major stepping stone in reaching that goal. He’s taken this advice, and wants to pass it along to anyone considering making a big change – “I’d like to encourage people to make an effort, even a little, to invest in themselves in studying because the outcome will always be greater. More importantly, individuals don’t have to let their shortcomings prevent them from pursuing their goals.”
Follow Braille’s advice and sign up for construction courses today. You’re worth it.