by Oteia Douglas
Malik Smith currently is employed as an auto- mechanic at the leading Charlotte Area Transportation System (CATS) in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he pre-apprenticed through MeckEd. Malik decided to join MeckEd to receive career support services. He stated that it, “was the middle of the road for me-I knew that I had two paths, and I could have very easily taken the wrong path. I did not want that for my life.” Little did Malik understand how joining MeckEd would evolve his career path. Malik’s internship led to full time employment. Malik joined the workforce and entered into a strong career in 2017, just five months after graduating high school.
Malik joined MeckEd in 2016. Malik’s experiences led way for the Career Pathway Advisor and Malik to quickly learn that yes! Auto-Mechanics was a great career move for him, not only did Malik have an interest in auto-mechanics through a desire, but he had not taken his twenty year old car to the shop in years. He did 90 percent of the work on his car. Ms. Douglas believes that Malik’s success was in the one- on- one support he was given, and internships provided. Malik interned at Joey’s Trucking Company. There he learned how to work on heavy diesel equipment through MeckEd and Charlotte Works funding. He learned how to work on engines, and transmissions in commercial trucks. He interned about twenty hours a week. The spending money from the WIOA program allowed him to purchase personal tools to continue work on his car. After interning at Joey’s Trucking Company, it was time for Malik to transition, he began to apprentice with CATS.
Once again the program provided Malik with steel- toe shoes and experience- both classroom and on the job training. With the extra money, Malik purchased a tool box that he had always wanted for a few hundred bucks. “Who would have ever thought that a simple tool box could cost around one-thousand dollars.” joked Ms. Douglas, the advisor. Malik apprenticed during the summer and studied at Central Piedmont Community College as well. The advisor would often call Malik to make sure that he was okay. Ms. Douglas remembers once when Malik called about being sleepy. The advisor asked Malik was he at least getting six hours of sleep?
When Malik said “Yes,” Ms. Douglas helped Malik to understand that in college while studying and interning everyone’s a little sleepy, but that he should try to rest during the weekends. On the contrary, he should try not to miss any days of work if he could avoid it.
The advisor also remembers when Malik felt that he was ready to take his CDL test. Making sure that Malik passed his test was MeckEd’s goal. It took Malik three attempts and many trips back and forth to the DMV, even waiting in line with Malik, Ms, Douglas knew that Malik would get his license. On the third attempt Malik did earn his license, and the advisor was there to celebrate with him and not only pay for the test with the funding that Charlotte Work’s provided, but pay for the license itself. Malik was now a CDL licensed driver. The DMV officer spoke very kindly of Malik, and both (Malik and the advisor) were on to the next event. The next event came approximately two weeks later. The manager was strongly thinking about hiring Malik, as he had spoken to Ms. Douglas about this before, Ms. Douglas wanted to see if the offer still remained. She asked the manager, and after a discussion Malik was hired.
Since then, Malik has been working at CATS full time, and attending Central Piedmont Community College in Heavy Diesel Mechanics. Malik also provided a testimonial for MeckEd’s Annual Community breakfast. Malik has attended a company dinner, and he states that he soon plans to come and speak to some of his Garinger peers. In the meantime, Malik enjoys riding his motorcycle in which he purchased with the salary from his new career. Malik does believe that MeckEd changed the course of his life.