Success Story: Deandre
In 2012, Deandre Lander was a senior in high school who was invested in taking next steps in his career as he participated in Indianapolis’ J. Everett Light Career Center, where he earned his welding certification. However, for personal reasons, he did not end up graduating from high school. This certification got him a job, but because of his authority issues, it only lasted for six months. After that, Deandre worked in food retail until Fall of 2015, when he was arrested for joining in with the wrong crowd.
As a first-time offender, he was given the opportunity to be released on work release after two years. This is when he came into contact with James Conway, a case manager for Keys to Work. When the two met, James immediately saw potential in the young man and enrolled him in WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act), a bill designed to help job seekers gain employment, education, training, and services to succeed in the workforce. Because of Deandre’s age, he also qualified to be part of YES (Youth Employment Services) programs, which work with young adults to prepare them for the workforce and help them discover their next steps.
This next step brought Deandre to RecycleForce, a 501(c)3 offering “innovative recycling services all while providing life-changing workforce training to formerly incarcerated individuals.” While he was there, Deandre impressed his managers immensely and they offered him an associate position that provided him with resources to expand his skillset. He gained warehouse experience and earned his forklift license, a valuable, high-demand certification. But his employability skills growth did not stop there.
Deandre knew that he could continue to get certifications but having a high school diploma is something that would really make him stand out to employers. That is why when he re-entered the workforce in Fall of 2017, he got involved with Warren Township. Through the Walker Career Center, Deandre was able to earn his HSE (High School Equivalency) degree in October of 2017 and continue to further his career. At this point, his employability toolbox had a forklift license, warehouse experience, and a HSE. But he is a motivated young man and wasn’t going to stop there when he had so much more potential.
Since then, he has gone through OSHA and machine guard training and is currently working on getting his driver’s license and CLA (certified logistics associates) degree. “I have the motivation to get jobs and now I have my credentials so when I apply for a specific job, it’s nice to be able to show that certificate,” says Deandre when asked why he has continued to grow his resume. One of the main reasons behind this motivation is Deandre’s young son, who lives with him. He wants to be someone his son can both look up to and be proud of.
“What I got in trouble for was no where near like how I was raised but then I came to Keys to Work and things started changing for me. Changing for the better.”
Because of his drive, success, and dreams to excel, Deandre has been featured in a series of employability skills videos by Ascend Indiana and in a news segment by Fox 59. “I want to work and stay at a place for a long period of time,” says Deandre,” I want to find something I enjoy and make a career out of it.”