Tosha Ford Immerses Herself in Local Communities as CEFGA’s Outreach & Recruitment Specialist
When Tosha Ford enrolled in Construction Ready, she had no idea it would lead to a job with the very organization that runs the program. But CEFGA staffers were so impressed with Tosha’s poise and professionalism, she was hired as a Construction Ready Site Manager upon graduating with Aerotropolis Group 4.
Jamie Buck, CEFGA Vice President for Construction Ready, recalls meeting Tosha at an event hosted by the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation not long before she graduated.
“While waiting and mingling in the crowd that was arriving, Tina [Robison, CEFGA VP for Operations and Administration] saw someone walk in with a Construction Ready shirt on,” Buck says. “We walked over and found out she was a student in the Aerotropolis class. After hearing her story and how she enjoyed speaking with people and getting involved in the community, bells and whistles started going off in our heads.”
At the Construction Ready Hiring Fair that soon followed, Tosha impressed other employers as well. “But CEFGA stole me away,” she says with a laugh. She was hired in September 2018; by January she had earned a promotion to Outreach & Recruitment Specialist.
Construction wasn’t entirely new to Tosha when she discovered CEFGA. Her previous work experience included serving as an executive assistant role for the VP of construction at a real estate investment trust. Most recently she had worked in logistics; that job ended with a layoff that led to some soul-searching about her career.
“I had to make a decision,” Tosha remembers. “Am I going to go back to school? Continue in logistics? Get back into HR, which I had been doing most of my corporate life? Or try something totally different? What I did was think back and ask myself, ‘What was the best job I ever had?’ And it all centered around construction.”
Tosha learned about Construction Ready at a job fair in Douglas County. She researched the opportunity and made sure she would be financially secure without any income during the four-week curriculum. In fact, she could have enrolled with an earlier class, but says, “I didn’t want to rush into it. I had a plan – that’s just how I am. I expected it to be life-changing, so I wanted to make sure I was prepared for it. And if I hadn’t waited, I wouldn’t have gotten this job.”
Among their many responsibilities, Construction Ready site managers tend to countless administrative details, track student progress toward graduation and, when necessary, step in to resolve conflicts between attendees who come from a broad variety of backgrounds. Tosha exudes a combination of calmness and strength, traits that served her well as both a student and a site manager.
“I’ve always been exposed to different kinds of people, so it’s not anything new to me,” she says. “I’m able to diffuse certain situations and maintain order. I know when people are trying to push my buttons, but that doesn’t work on me. No matter goes what on around me, I’m able to stay focused. That’s how I was able to get through [the program], and that’s what I tell people they have to do [to succeed in the program]. I can always speak from experience, and it’s real and it’s the truth.”
Already appreciative of the opportunity Construction Ready affords Atlanta-area residents, Tosha says joining the CEFGA staff opened her eyes and made her even more thankful.
“As a student, you don’t realize how much work is involved in getting you in that seat,” she says. “It’s a lot. So I’m grateful for that and always I’m trying to tell the students that.
“It’s definitely a blessing,” she continues. “It’s a way of giving back every day. That’s kind of built into the job, and it means a lot more after having gone through the program as a student. Talking to a student or a potential trainee, I feel like my credibility is enhanced in a way.”
In her new role, Tosha spends more of her time away from the classroom and out in the community. She looks for strategic opportunities to spread the word about Construction Ready, such as at community centers and neighborhood meetings.
Tosha clearly found the right path forward from the career crossroads she stood at in the spring of 2018. Her combination of strong relational skills and experience as a Construction Ready graduate herself make her a perfect fit for her role with CEFGA, an assessment Jamie Buck confirms.
“We saw that she was a go-getter,” Buck says. “She had excitement and passion in her voice, presented herself professionally, and wanted to learn and engage with people. Tosha’s strengths are with outreach and recruitment, getting into the heart of the communities. I wish I had ten more of her!”
VIDEO: Tosha Ford discusses her thought process in preparing for Construction Ready, and her gratitude for now being able to work as part of the team that manages the program. Follow us on our YouTube channel to hear about more successful construction careers in Georgia.