Carlos Diaz had completed all of his course work and was set to graduate high school in the Spring of 2015. While in high school, Carlos had acquired training to become a cook, and decided that becoming a chef was his ultimate career goal. In April, Carlos interviewed with Project Search, a program that develops job readiness skills in students who are exiting Special Education from Fort Worth ISD. Carlos interviewed impressively and was accepted into the program. Project Search is one of the many programs that Goodwill of Fort Worth offers to place individuals experiencing barriers to employment in competitive jobs.
In the Fall of 2015, Carlos began an internship within the cafeteria of Texas Wesleyan University. Carlos shared his desire to become a chef with the upper-level kitchen staff at Texas Wesleyan. Carlos started out by bussing tables and cleaning up after the students. His work ethic and dedication did not go unnoticed, and he was quickly given additional duties. Carlos’ supervisor began to talk with him about going to culinary classes at Tarrant County College.
In March of 2016, the head chef at Texas Wesleyan University approached Goodwill of Fort Worth about hiring Carlos permanently. Currently, Carlos is a prep cook in the cafeteria as a part of the team responsible for preparing lunch. Carlos says that he would never have known about this job without the help he received from Goodwill and Project Search. “Goodwill taught me the skills I needed to interview and find this job, but now it is up to me to keep it.” Carlos loves his job with Texas Wesleyan and truly enjoys training new employees on how to bus tables and cook the international dishes on the cafeteria menu.
Carlos continues to work toward his dream of becoming a chef. The Project Search staff are currently helping Carlos complete the paperwork to enroll in culinary classes at Tarrant County College and fill out the FAFSA forms so that he can afford his education. Carlos’ supervisor at Texas Wesleyan has made arrangements for him to work while he goes to class, and he is working as much as possible while saving for school. When he finishes his culinary classes, Carlos wants to open his own restaurant and maybe even a food truck.
After just one more year of work, Carlos will have saved enough for his first year’s tuition. Prior to Project Search, Carlos had been helping his mom make and sell tamales to their friends door-to-door. Carlos said, “If it weren’t for Goodwill and my acceptance into Project Search, I would still be selling tamales with my mom. Now I have a chance to actually do my dream job”