Manish Patel is an experienced business owner of a convenience store in Charlotte of almost 25 years. But like many participants taking Goodwill courses, he was searching for a change in his life.
“When COVID hit, I started looking at different opportunities,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to experience the HVAC field, so I started looking around. A friend told me that Goodwill had programs.”
“The classes were a challenge because I had never worked in the HVAC field before. The biggest challenge was remembering the names of each of the parts,” he said. “One of the advantages is that we actually had a machine that we would work on, so we could practice the things to look for in the real world.”
In addition to courses, Goodwill offers wraparound services, including resume and interview help. Manish’s Career Navigator, Verona Hendrix, helped him prepare to enter the workforce again.
“I hadn’t written a resume in a while because I owned my own business for about 25 years. I was the one interviewing and hiring people, and now I was on the other side. Verona was my mentor, and she was really helpful when guiding me through the steps,” he explained. “We had good candid conversations, and she helped me with creating a different mindset; transitioning from a business owner to now an employee. The things we talked about were very critical for me to think differently.”
Goodwill’s Employer Engagement team also assists participants by arranging job fairs and helping participants meet employers. Matt Robson, Employer Engagement Specialist, helped Manish throughout the job interviewing process.
“Matt is wonderful – he would go and approach employers to help us get interviews. If an interview didn’t go well, he would go to the employer and get feedback on what I could improve on,” Manish said. “One thing I like about Goodwill is it’s an all-around approach. They hold your hand step-by-step. We had a vast amount of people that were guiding us and backing us up. They went above and beyond. With Goodwill, if people want to have a job or are looking for a job, they’ll get it,” he emphasized.
In October, Manish obtained a position working in the HVAC industry with Inlivian, formerly known as the Charlotte Housing Authority. He recently completed his 90 days with the company.
“I’m comfortable with where I am right now, and I see my growth potential in this company,” he said. “I now have so much time to spend with my family, and for me to read and understand new things.”
Manish hopes to also enroll in Goodwill’s Electrical Training course in the future.
Training courses, like the one Manish took, are available free of charge thanks to donations and purchases made by shoppers at Charlotte-area Goodwill retail locations.
“For me, it’s life changing,” he emphasized. “This program is one of the best. Anybody who wants to try a new field and be good at it – this is a perfect program for them.”