Alex Dirst Graduated from Construction Ready with Newfound Humility and Focus

When Alex Dirst enrolled in CEFGA’s Construction Ready at Build Cobb program, he already had some industry experience, having done a little bit of everything – framing, tiling, flooring, painting, even concrete.

By the time he graduated four weeks later, he not only had refined his skills, he had undergone an attitude adjustment as well.

“To be honest, I thought I was doing really well,” Alex recalls. “But in my second week, I got called out into the hall by Miss [Yolanda] Davis,” the instructor for Build Cobb Group 16. “She didn’t think I was being serious,” he says, and he admits to a streak of pride, owing perhaps to the head start he had on his classmates.

“I was looking around and thinking, ‘I don’t think a lot of these people have ever been on a construction site in their life.’”

Of course, most of them hadn’t been on a construction site. But that’s not an obstacle if the student is willing to learn and work hard. Hundreds have come to Construction Ready with no experience and now have full-time careers in the business.

Others, like Alex, have worked construction before, but they too can benefit from every aspect of the program, from the hands-on training to the credentials they earn to the soft skills they gain, such as resume writing and interviewing.

Attitude makes all the difference, and for Alex, that impromptu meeting with his instructor was a turning point.

“I realized I needed to buckle down,” he says. “After that I started making 100s on all the tests.”

A Smyrna native, Alex had been out of work when one day he went with a friend to pick up some donated items at Sweetwater Mission in Austell. He saw a flier for Construction Ready and applied right away.

He graduated in September 2018 and was hired immediately by Marietta-based Baldwin Paving, where he works in the company’s bridge division.

A few weeks into his new job, Alex took time to stop by and share an encouraging word with another Build Cobb group. He candidly spoke of the lesson he learned in humility and his gratitude for the rigorous training, which he said provided him clear direction and prepared him to reenter the workforce so quickly.

“The program helped me a lot,” Alex says. “It had its ups and downs, but all in all it was a good experience. From not having a job and wondering what direction I was going to take, to this point where I’m at now, I’m really, really excited and more focused and determined than I’ve been in a long time.”

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