Stressed from Some Major Life Changes, Toni Davis Got an Unexpected New Start from Construction Ready

When Toni Davis relocated from Chicago to Atlanta in 2018, the main reason was to position her teenage daughter – an aspiring musician – for career opportunities. Little did she know the move would lead to an entirely new career for herself.

Toni arrived in Atlanta with a wide-ranging job background, including stints as a pharmacy tech and a trucking company dispatcher. She landed a position with Comcast, but struggled to adjust to her new surroundings.

“I was having a hard time,” Toni remembers. “I had a different job. I took a big pay cut. I guess mentally I needed to take some time off from work, so I went on leave.”

Toni’s HR department advised her to see a doctor.

“I was like, ‘You’re kidding me,’” she says. “I’ve never been to a psychiatrist or a counselor or anything. But when I went in there and we talked, she said, ‘Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong. There’s nothing going on that I have to prescribe medicine for or that you need to have a long, drawn-out session for.’ Then she said, ‘You need a career change.’”

Toni agreed, but was skeptical when that same physician told her about Construction Ready.

“I was like, ‘Construction? What do I know about that?’ But she said, ‘No, Toni, give it a chance, check it out. You’re on leave from work, so this is the perfect time.’ So I decided to try it.”

Toni attended classes with Construction Ready at Build Cobb and graduated with Group 18 in March 2019. When she interviewed with Archer Western, which serves the building, civil, transportation and water sectors, she demonstrated she was committed to her career change.

As she recalls, “The person I spoke to told me, ‘I really don’t have anything [for an entry-level worker]; I’m looking for someone with experience.’ But I didn’t give up. I think my response to him is what changed his mind. I said, ‘Sir, I understand that, but can I ask you a question? If no one gives me an opportunity, how am I supposed to gain experience?’ He said, ‘You’re absolutely right. When do you want to start?’”

Toni was assigned to a wastewater treatment project as a laborer. By the end of her first week, her superintendent had recognized her administrative skills and moved her to a position scheduling and tracking concrete operations.

After completing 90 days with Archer, Toni entered CEFGA’s Construction Ready PLUS program to continue her education.

From learning new skills to helping build a vital environmental facility, Toni is invigorated in her new career and thankful for the unexpected turn of events that led to it.

“I enjoy learning new tasks,” she says. “And being a part of something – that’s the greatest feeling. When we finish this [wastewater treatment] project, I’m going to be able to tell my kids, ‘I had a hand in that.’ I love that part.

“Construction Ready opens a lot of doors of opportunity,” she continues. “I couldn’t be more grateful [the physician] pushed me in that direction, because I would have never thought about construction at all. It gives you more confidence, going through that and learning what you learn and having those credentials. It gives you more confidence to walk into a company and say, ‘This is what I’m worth. This is what I can offer your company. I can help you grow as you help me grow.’”

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