Pcolya Crumby traded a stable teaching job for a new career in construction – and she’s having the time of her life
Story and photos by Allen Allnoch
It was fall of 2017 and Pcolya Crumby was feeling a certain tension in her life. On one hand, she was in a comfort zone, secure in her job as an elementary school teacher. On the other, she was feeling restless and ready for a change.
One evening in a Cobb County library, while working on a lesson plan, a brochure for CEFGA’s Construction Ready program caught her eye.
“Construction has always been in my family,” recalls Pcolya, who grew up in Stone Mountain. “My dad is a really good carpenter. He can build a house from scratch. So that has always been interesting to me, and when I learned about the CEFGA program, I knew I wanted a change.”
Pcolya, who studied forensic science in college and worked as a probation officer prior to becoming a school teacher, decided to investigate further. She met with Anita Soto, Project Specialist with WorkSource Cobb, which helps facilitate CEFGA’s Construction Ready at Build Cobb program.
“She was so friendly and encouraging. She made me feel really comfortable, because I was hesitant, wondering how women do in this program. And I was in my comfort zone with teaching. You know, once you do something for so long, it’s like the back of your hand.”
Pcolya decided to take the risk. Exactly 30 days after she saw that Construction Ready flier, she was enrolled and embarking on a new career.
“I think going with no income for four weeks was the hardest part,” she says with a laugh. “I even donated plasma to make some money. But I learned so much. They taught us what to expect in the field, not only from a work, safety and environmental perspective, but how to deal with different people, too. Those four weeks were crammed full of so much, but it was really informative and really, really, really worth it.”
Pcolya met with two representatives of PSG Construction at the hiring fair that concludes every Construction Ready curriculum. The Atlanta-based general contractor was interested in her, but she left the interview thinking she had blown it.
“During the interview, one of the gentlemen looked at the other and said, ‘Are we good here?’ He said, ‘No, I have a few more questions.’ The first one said, ‘Ok, well it was nice to meet you,’ and he got up and left.”
She ended up being hired as a general laborer; she also got an explanation for the manager’s puzzling behavior. “I talked to him and said, ‘You startled me because you walked off. I thought for sure that I didn’t have the job.’ He said, ‘I walked off because I already knew you were what we wanted.’”
Pcolya definitely makes a positive first impression. She’s confident and engaging, with a bright smile that sets people around her at ease. Right from the start – her first assignment was on a loft apartment project downtown, mostly cleaning and clearing debris – she continued to impress PSG management with her work ethic and attention to detail.
“I’ll never forget the first time I met the owner of PSG,” she recalls. “He came up and simply asked me if I had covered a hole and labeled it. I said yes, and he said, ‘Something that simple could save a life.’ And then just walked away. I was like, ‘Well, thank you!’ It was something so minor, but it resonated with me.”
Soon Pcolya was promoted to a foreman role. A month later, she was offered a newly created position as safety officer, complete with paid training for OSHA 30 certification. She seems to have found her niche in that position, and she feels right at home on any job site.
“I don’t want to go sit behind a desk anymore, I don’t want to even be inside of a building,” she says. “I’m excited because each day I’m outside, I’m exposed to the elements, I get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. I have fun every day. Even when it’s not such a great day, even when my feet are soaking wet from working in the rain, I’m still happy.
“This program changed my life,” she continues. “The entire program, the way it’s put together, it’s meant for success. You can’t help but be successful; if you’re not, it’s pretty much your own fault. If you just take advantage of what they give you, you will skyrocket. And if you have a little gusto of your own to sprinkle on that, it helps a lot.”