Tag Archives: Federal Prison Industries; WorkKeys

WAITING

counting the daysI am waiting, waiting for my WorkKeys test scores, waiting for a class to begin on Job Applications & Resumé Writing.  All of that waiting concerns preparation for the day my freedom arrives (read my poem below, “Waiting”).

The past prepares me for today.  Today prepares me for tomorrow; and if given a “tomorrow,” I shall seek opportunities that prepare me for better days.

In preparation of the day my freedom comes, I continue to work on increasing my chance of success upon release, which may be as early as April 25th, 2018.  Well, that is my “almost free” date; the date I may leave here for Dismas Charities (halfway house) in Atlanta, Georgia, my home town.  I’d still technically be in federal custody while at the halfway house but will be allowed to go find a job to pay for my upkeep.  Later on I’d be put on home confinement, where I will stay at home unless at work, always near a phone and monitoring device.

WORKKEYS:  At the beginning and end of the class, we took the TABE Locator test for math.  At the beginning I scored 12.1 out of a possible 12.9, the latter of which I scored upon completion.  Now I am waiting to see if I succeeded at obtaining Platinum certification.  I feel I did.  By the next blog I will know and will proudly boast if I scored the Platinum.  If I did not qualify for it in two out of three categories, I will be shocked.  No doubt I will at least grab the Gold!

PLATINUM:  A flyer about the National Career Readiness Certificate, shows those with Platinum certification (Level 6), are qualified for 99% of jobs; e.g., accountant, technical writer, registered nurse manager, elevator installer and repairer.

GOLD:  those who bring home the Gold (Level 5) qualify for 93% of jobs; e.g., school counselor, pharmacy technician, semi-conductor processor, business executive, electrician.

I like the potential job categories for the Gold (as well as for the Silver or Bronze I do not list), but I prefer the Platinum; it will shine more when I apply for a job with an interested company.

JOB APPLICATIONS & RESUMÉ WRITING

OBJECTIVE:  Secure entry-level position with innovative company and advancement opportunities; demonstrate ability to assist management at maintaining and enhancing customer satisfaction.

I signed up to take the class for one reason:  to participate in a Mock Job Fair upon completion.  As I wrote in “Seeking a Real Job,” June 7, 2017, I completed the World of Work program and worked in personnel at Bankhead Enterprises, Inc.  I know how to complete job applications and how to write a Resumé.

I signed on as a student but when I went to show the instructor my Resumés so he can use them to show the other students how to overcome “missing years” from the workforce, I was asked to help with the class.  I agreed.  Our first class is this week.

EMPLOYMENT PLANNING

ISO 9001: 2008, QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM AUDIT:  For the last few weeks, I’ve worked on revising the local Quality Manual (QM) used by my employer.  This week, the factory will be audited for compliance with ISO 9001: 2008 requirements.  We will be under close scrutiny by an external auditor from the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).

I control the documents and am intricate to the auditing process, as I am also an internal auditor for the Quality Management System (QMS), and am the longest-standing QMS employee at this factory.

Our Operations Manager, who began here in 2010 as a trainee for a Q.A. Manager position, upon completion of his training, relocated and then climbed the ranks.  He is now over this factory and two others.  He recently visited and said, “You’re still here? They need to make a monument out of you, you’ve been here so long.”  🙂

TECHNICAL INFORMATION:  Each section in the local QM coincides with the ISO 9001: 2008, Quality Management System requirement; e.g., ISO 9001: 2008, sub-clause 4.3, Control of Documents, is Section 4.3, Control of Documents in the local Quality Manual.  All ISO certified factories must be compliant with the ISO 9001: 2015 standard by September 15, 2018.

I am adding changes to the QM to ease the transitional process (listing parallel requirements, where the two standards coexist), and by adding any additional requirements to comply with the 2015 standard.  Doing that will make the conversion process easier when I revise other associated documents.

My original plan was to retire before this NSAI audit.  I changed my mind to honor my word.  During the February 2017 NSAI audit, the external auditor wanted to know when we’d be ready to apply for certification under the new standard.

“Before I leave in April of 2018,” I said, since no one else answered.  I have the skills and know the value of knowledge and experience that I’ll gain by helping to convert the QMS over to ISO 9001: 2015; I suspect it will boost my annual salary range by $10,000-$20,000, above the normal pay range for the type of positions I am seeking in the manufacturing sector.

The acquired knowledge also opens the door for freelance opportunities of going into businesses to help prepare them for ISO certification, or simply going in to set up an internal auditing program (several years ago the going rate for setting up an auditing program was 30K).  I can do that!

TECHNICAL WRITER:  Officially, UNICOR does not have a technical writer position; however, I have done and do a lot of it.  While doing an internal audit, I made a finding about the factory not having a manufacturing instruction for a new process.  Because of my superb technical writing skills, and the factory’s lack of qualified personnel in the production department, I became the one to write the needed manufacturing instruction.

I love showcasing my skills by creating visual art with the Microsoft Word 2010 computer program, so I added illustrations to show users how to perform the task.  Years ago, after seeing my work on manufacturing instructions, an external auditor was amazed that I had done it in Microsoft Word.

Now I have more to add to my portfolio.  In many companies these days, employees just take photos and write a brief instruction.  That doesn’t work well for all the other forms of technical writing I do; e.g., writing and editing other administrative documents for my superiors to approve.

AGE BARRIER:  My age was one of my former concerns in finding suitable employment; however, on July 29, 2017, I listened to a portion of a segment on CNN that relieved my worries.  The caption read:  DRUG USE IMPACTS BLUE COLLAR WORKFORCE.

Even though I plan to be a White Collar employee, when I heard that “Four Out of Five Job Applicants Fail Drug Screens,” it convinced me that living clean and sober gives me an edge.  Ironically, the problem that once defeated me in the pursuit of a promising career, has now become a factor to rocket me into a promising future as a productive member of society, as an older and wiser person.

A POEM:  This poem captures the reality of prison living.  This is an existence I eagerly await passing, with no intention of ever returning, other than as a visitor to show others that there is hope of better days.  I wrote Waiting while living with a difficult cellmate, while I practiced humility, breathing in, breathing out; changing my karma.  Instead of getting physical to show my dominance, I stayed composed and effectively resolved the conflict without picking up a new case or causing injury.

It is easy to come to prison and spend the rest of your life for having to resort to violence to deal with a knucklehead.  I make better choices today by responding to conflict rather than reacting, and will continue to do so upon release.

WAITING

Light streams through bars and screen,

Illuminating the gray of a gloomy place.

A place where people weep and pray,

Making way for another day.

 

Another day confined in a bathroom;

Another day held with another person,

In an overcrowded prison, celled together,

Saving tax dollars, space, fighting hate.

 

Hate seeping through pores, poisoning the soul,

Creating a recidivist with its venom;

Venom eating the soul, leaving a shell.

Hate I leave behind today in search of serenity.

 

When will the day come without bars and fences?

Will I walk away upright, proud, free at last?

Will I be rolled out, en route to mortuary?

Will I walk freely, no chains or cuffs, mortified?

“Waiting,” copyright 2011, Wayne T. Dowdy, ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.

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CONCLUSION:  When I do enter the job market, I will succeed at whatever field I choose.  I am also a qualified Q.A. Inspector.  Another field I may go into is counseling drug addicts and alcoholics, helping the mentally ill and others to find an acceptable way of life.  My long-term plan is to create my own company.  Only God knows what I will actually do or whether the day will come that I do walk out the doors as a free man.

Today (August 8th), I will attend a Memorial Service for a friend who could not conquer his addiction and died in a prison restroom.  He also had heart problems and I do not know what he actually died from, but do know he only had sixteen months to walk out the door as a free man, after having served over twenty-three years.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, but IF I do see the day I anticipate, I will make a difference on many levels, including the creation of StraightFromthePen.org and StraightFromthePen.net.  Click here (gf.me/u/ba6xjn) to see my GoFundMe page for more on my plans for both websites.

Of course, the old saying is if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.  This time, I hope mine and God’s plans coincide.

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Support the author’s writings by purchasing ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) from your favorite bookseller; available in eBook and paperback.  Visit StraightFromthePen.com and Https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy for other writings by Wayne T. Dowdy.  If you prefer to buy direct, purchase his novels and essay collection from Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616  Email:  MEBooks1@yahoo.com.  Midnight Express Books helps prison authors to achieve their publishing dreams.

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SEEKING A REAL JOB

job application.jpgby Wayne T. Dowdy

Time changes things.  Ex-offenders struggled to obtain gainful employment for years.  The blemish of a felony conviction decreased their chance of employment.  Now, at many American companies, a criminal conviction does not automatically disqualify ex-felon job applicants.  That is good news for society and taxpayers!

“The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, representing 1,300 business groups, agreed last month with the Counsel of State Governments Justice Center to provide assistance to chamber members in the hiring of ex-offenders.

“While some businesses have been interested in the past, ‘it becomes even more critical when the labor market is tight not to rule out qualified applicants,’ said David Rattray, a Los Angeles chamber executive.”  Stigma of Criminal Record Fades, As U.S. Employers Get Desperate by Steve Matthews, Copyright 2017 Bloomberg L.P., published in the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (BNA Reporter), CRL, May 31, 2017.

PERSONALLY:  In 1976, I was released from state prison and applied for numerous jobs.  I even tried getting a job at some of the local state government agencies.  During interviews, things went well until my criminal history became the topic, then I essentially got the infamous line, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”  No one called.

A month later, I read a newspaper article about CETA, a program created to help disadvantaged people find employment.  I applied there and experienced the same ole BS.  I had had enough by then.

CRIMINAL THINKING:  After hearing the same ole line, I looked at the interviewer and said, “I’m trying to get a job.  No one will hire me.  I have a wife at home, a baby, and another baby on the way.  I’ve got to have a job to take care of them, but since no one will hire me, what are you saying, I should get a gun and go to work?”

He reconsidered and sent me for an interview at a Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi dealership.  The company hired me as a mechanic.  Unfortunately, the floor manager did not like me.  If the Kelly’s Blue Book said to pay mechanics a certain rate for performing a specific task, he paid me less than normal.  The other mechanics sympathized and agreed that he was unfair to me.

I quit after dealing with the disparity for several months.  Within two years, I made a terrible mistake and picked up a gun to “get paid.”

CRIME PAYS:  I got paid using a gun.  What I got paid was a long-prison sentence because of the method of employment I chose to get paid.  Crime pays with prison sentences that rob men and women of their lives.

A life of crime led to me robbing my children of a father to guide, protect, and provide for them; robbed my wife of a husband to fulfill his responsibilities in the marriage; robbed my siblings of their brother, my mother and father of their son, and turned me into a liability rather than an asset to the family.

GET A JOB:  No, not with a gun.  Being caught with a gun or bullet, would get me sentenced to fifteen years to life without parole.  I don’t want to retire that way.  The 35-year sentence I am almost finished with, gave me enough time to get rested and willing to get a real job.

PREPARING FOR THE JOB MARKET:  On Sunday, May 28, 2017, Georgia Focus, a radio talk show, featured a Georgia Department of Labor official (I think it was Georgia Labor Commissioner, Mark Butler).

He spoke of programs to help the formerly incarcerated to find employment, and said that he has over 100,000 positions to fill.  According to the radio interview and the BNA article, one of the biggest obstacles of some applicant/employees is a lack of soft skills.

SOFT SKILLS:  show up for work on time, dress accordingly (if applying for a welding job, go dressed as if you are ready to start work, not in a three-piece suit); communication and people skills (working with others, being polite, considerate, etc.), and of course, working hard.

He also spoke on the value of following up on job applications; e.g., sending a message or calling to thank the employer for his or her consideration (as I recall, Mr. Butler used his daughter as an example of follow-up activities that landed her two interviews and then the job she sought).

THE WORLD OF WORK:  In 1985-86, I graduated from The World of Work, a program to teach participants to be entrepreneurs, how to get a job, how to succeed in the business world.

(To view a photo of me while giving a graduation speech from a podium at the Hilton Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, visit my photo gallery at here..)

I secured the first position I applied for at Bankhead Enterprises, Inc. (BEI).  I drove a truck to pick up and deliver parts for their Transportation Division (Bankhead Transportation Equipment).  Within two years, I held multiple positions and increased my salary by fifty-percent.

One position I held was as the assistant manager of the Equipment Maintenance Division.  I brought it out of the red for its first time by billing all expenses.  All of the department heads complained about an increase in overhead, but it made my boss happy.  🙂

The last official position I held was in the Personnel Department.  For a pay increase, I left to become an estimator for BEI’s fastest growing division (Bankhead Asphalt Paving).  The manager wanted me to work for two weeks to show him what I could do before he decided how much to increase my salary.

SHARP DRESSED MAN:  I made an irrational decision to quit because “that wasn’t the deal.”  I wanted the raise to walk on the property in my three-piece suit.  Yes, I was young and dumb, well dressed, but definitely young and dumb.

I left BEI and later worked for the Electrolux Corporation to sell vacuum cleaners and shampooers.  I took top office sales on my first week out.

HISTORY HURTS:  In 1988, an insurance company and real estate company both called and invited me to work for them.  My criminal conviction prohibited me from getting license to sell insurance, homes or property.

The insurance company had hired me.  I let the manager know I may not be able to get a license.  I wanted to find out if I could be licensed before he invested the time into training me.  With regret, he learned Georgia law prohibited me from selling insurance for his company.

The principles I learned in The World of Work worked.  I failed to succeed because I had a problem with drugs and alcohol, a problem I no longer have, and one that screwed up my thinking.  With over twenty-two years of sobriety, and a determination to succeed, I know I can make it in any company I chose to work for upon release.

SELL YOURSELF:  To get a job, one must sell themselves to the potential employer.  Employers do not care if the baby needs milk or if the spouse needs a new pair of shoes.  Employers hire people to do the job and to profit/benefit from their labor, so an applicant must convince the employer they are the best candidate for the position, the one to make them money or best serve their interests.

COMPLETING THE APPLICATION:  When completing an application, if it contains a field for Felony Convictions, write or type, “Will Explain During Interview.”  That may allow you to get your foot in the door to sell yourself as the person for the job.

EXPERIMENT:  If faced with resistance by a potential employer, and if you are confident of your ability to do the job, offer to work a week without promise of pay, unless you satisfactory perform the tasks.  Walk away with dignity and pride whether you secure the position or not.  Be proud of having given it your best.

ADVANCEMENT (GIVE MORE THAN YOU RECEIVE):  If paid $10.00 per hour and only work to give an employer $10.00 worth of work, an employee will likely stay at $10.00 per hour; however, if that employee gives the employer work worthy of $20.00 per hour, he or she will likely be promoted, whether it be by advancing in the organization, or by an increase in his or her salary.

FEDERAL PRISON INDUSTRIES, INC. (UNICOR):  For almost 28-years I’ve worked for UNICOR.  Numerous politicians tried to shut the doors.  UNICOR helps reduce recidivism by preparing inmates for the job market.  I learned several marketable job skills since I began working for UNICOR on December 1, 1989.

The more promising positions have been working as a document control clerk, a tutor in an Apprenticeship Program for Quality Assurance Inspectors, a technical writer (since 1997), and an Internal Auditor for eleven years.

The former Quality Assurance Manager, once told an external auditor for the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), who audited our Quality Management System for compliance with ISO 9001: 2008 Requirements, that I was like a gnat.

“When he’d ask me to do something we are supposed to do, if I put him off, he’d keep coming back to bug me to do it.  He was like a gnat flying around in my face.  I’d shoo him away but he’d keep coming back until I did what I was supposed to do.”

He retired and became a respectable employee for a private company.

I apply myself in whatever task I perform and do it to the best of my ability or not at all.  In UNICOR, I apply myself more so to do my part to help keep it afloat for others to have an opportunity to learn and provide for themselves.

I expect those who earn more in a day than I earn in a month to do the same thing.  That does not always work out when dealing with Union or federal employees who know it almost takes an act of Congress to terminate them.  Most often, the bureaucracy rewards incompetence by promoting them instead of sending them to look for another job.  Maybe President Trump can change that.

WORKKEYS:  I began WorkKeys last month to help prepare for reentry into the job market.  The title should have warned me that Workkeys required a lot of work.  The curriculum entails Reading for Information, Applied Math, and Locating Information.

In the early ’80s, I took a Math remedial class at South Georgia College to bring my math skills up to college level.  Now I am re-learning math because I forgot most of what I learned decades ago.  Use it or loose it!

The Neurons inside my brain sparked when math entered the equation.  Math is not my favorite course of study but that has not deterred me from proceeding with what I began.  I am rising to the occasion because of my desire to succeed.  I am striving for Platinum Certification.  More will be revealed!

REENTRY & EMPLOYMENT:  The changes in the job market give me more hope in securing gainful employment upon release.  My age may also be a hindrance when I apply for jobs.  Even so, I’m sure some employers prefer an older, more mature employee, who shows up for work on time, performs his duties in a prompt, efficient manner, and who proves himself an asset to their company, as I will do.

In “Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism” (July 2016), I wrote on the reentry initiatives implemented by President Obama that will help ex-offenders obtain employment and become a taxpayer instead of a tax liability.  I listed numerous companies willing to hire ex-offenders; e.g., The Coca-Cola Company, Georgia-Pacific, Kellogg Company, Staples, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Best Buy, and many others.  Hopefully, Attorney General Sessions will not undo that as he has other initiates implemented by the Obama Administration.

Perhaps Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal, will hire an ex-offender when I am released.  I have a lot to offer about issues affecting recidivism, including ideas for reducing it by helping the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated.  After all, with my experience in corrections, I am somewhat an expert.

My corrections experience cost taxpayers well-over a million dollars.  Employing me as a Consultant or auditor will yield favorable results by converting me into an asset, especially, for those with a vested interest in reducing recidivism through employment opportunities.

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Wayne T. Dowdy writes StraightFromthePen.  Follow his blogs and purchase his writings at http://www.straightfromthepen.com or at Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616, Email: MEBooks1@yahoo.com