Between working to support her family and training at Opportunity Junction, Connie was only sleeping two hours each night. She soon discovered it would all pay off…

Featured Alum 250x350Concepcion “Connie” Salcedo had wanted to enroll in Opportunity Junction’s Administrative Careers Training (ACT) program in the past, but with a family to provide for and a conflicting work schedule, the timing never seemed right. Still, she subscribed to OJ’s email newsletter to keep a pulse on things happening with the organization.

When her hours were reduced, Connie re-evaluated her circumstances. Coincidentally, an email from Opportunity Junction arrived with an announcement: recruitment was underway for a new ACT cohort. This time, she decided to jump on board and filled out an application.

On her first day of class in September 2022, the single mother of two recalled feeling nervous and unsure. While she had graduated from the University of La Verne, it had been 14 years since she had used a computer, and she knew her skills would be outdated. Calling herself a shy person, Connie also worried she wouldn’t be able to connect with anyone.

She was happy to be wrong.

“My peers were very welcoming. Every single day, somebody would say a prayer, or somebody would send good vibes so that we all would do our best throughout the day,” she said of her classmates.

Connie would certainly need this support – she was still working graveyard shifts as a stocker while attending the full-time ACT program during the 9-5 hours and raising her 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

Throughout it all, she remembered her family and the motivational poster she had made at the beginning of the ACT training that showcased her reason for enrolling. On the poster, she answered the question “Why Am I Here?” with a photo of a woman on the beach to express her desire for a job that would give her financial stability to support her children and the ability to travel.

While her kids are still young, she felt they appreciated her hard work.

“Sometimes my daughter would say to me, ‘Mom, I don’t know how you do it,’ or sometimes she’ll say out of nowhere, ‘You’re the best mom ever,’” Connie said.

When the training ended, Opportunity Junction hired Connie and the other graduates half-time to perform administrative work and hone their skills. During that time, they also completed a career skills curriculum, searched for career opportunities, and received placement assistance.

At first, Connie struggled to find the right opportunity, and her demanding schedule was beginning to take its toll. She admitted this was a tough time. Barely a month in, though, OJ staff members encouraged Connie to apply for a human resources (HR) job. They began preparing her for the interview process, too.

When Connie met the hiring manager, she immediately felt at ease. And something else made the position an ideal fit.

“Then she’s like, ‘I will need you to travel. … Are you able to do that?’ and I’m like yes!” she recalled.

Connie is now an HR representative for Ramar Foods and in training to become a safety coordinator who will perform audits to make sure her company is compliant with OSHA standards.

And in keeping with her motivational poster, she recently traveled to Hawaii for work.

When asked what she learned about herself throughout the process, she said, “I learned that I am a strong woman, that I am capable of doing what I need to do for my family, and that even though I’m alone most of the time, there’s always someone there to help me out. There will always be someone to encourage you even when you feel that you don’t have someone to extend that hand.”

She encouraged others to leave their comfort zones to see what awaits them.

Live. Live to the fullest. And any opportunity that comes your way, just jump on board.”