Working World

October 2016

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18 October, 2016 l Working World l F or 20 years, Ralph Wesson worked a steady job with good hours and a decent living as a coach and sports information director for the women's basketball team at Pierce College. But everything came crashing down when Wesson's father's health began to de- teriorate; he was forced to make some adjustments in order to be there for his dad. "I had to take a leave of absence be- cause he needed full-time care," Wesson said. "Eventually, I stopped coaching." Since Wesson took a lot of time off work, he got laid off at Pierce, but managed to find a job at New York Life Insurance (NYL). Things never really worked out at NYL and after one year there, Wesson left and wound up back on the job market. As time passed, Wesson started running out of options: "I was unemployed and didn't have any money so I applied for General Relief." That is when he met Linda Choy, a Career Development Program Specialist for the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE). Choy recommended the Technology and Logistics program at East Los Angeles College (ELAC). There he would learn about the industry of logistics and he would acquire the knowledge and skills he needed to get hired. "[Then] I started taking classes at ELAC; actually all the classes I took were enjoyable," Wesson said. Even though Wesson had earned a bachelor's degree in business administration prior to attending ELAC, he needed a fresh start. At ELAC, Wesson got the fresh start he was looking for and more. In six months, Wesson earned a Logistics Material Handling Certificate. "I knew that it would help me with business," he said. With a background in business and logistics, Wesson suddenly became a viable candidate for a lot of employers. Then, Choy recommended Wesson to apply at O'Riley Auto Parts. For almost a year, Wesson's worked at O'Riley and said that he constantly applies everything he learned in the logistics courses towards his job. "My business degree helps me with the sales part of it and the logistics part helps with taking care of the warehouse, stocking and inventory," Wesson said. "With auto parts, you need to have inventory to sell stuff." Being an experienced worker has impressed his bosses. "Now they want to promote me to parts specialist because I understand how to do inventory a lot faster than say a lot of other people do," he said. "I think that contributes to what I learned at ELAC." With all of the skills he acquired through the classes he took, Wesson is already a step ahead. He plans on moving up at O'Riley Auto Parts and eventually getting into the corporate side of the business. Although Wesson had to completely start over, he said it is ultimately better that he started by taking the logistics courses and getting a skill certificates. So far, it has paid major dividends for him at his current job. "I don't miss coaching at all even though that was part of my life for 20 years," Wesson said. "There are so many jobs out there now in warehouse that I'm a lot more qualified for than I was before." FEATURE ARTICLE by Will Hernandez Climbing the Corporate Ladder

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