Claudia Barrera at Goodwill's Career CenterMeet Claudia Barrera

Today Claudia Barrera is a surgical technician student at Chattahoochee Technical College. She is a confident student with a clear plan, but it took some time and coaching for her to get there.

Just over a year ago Barrera was frustrated with her job at a pizza place. She was interested in work that would better position her for a long-term career, but felt stuck and unsure of how to make a transition. A family friend and Goodwill employee directed her to a local career center and the Youth Employment Service (Y.E.S.) program. “[The program] was amazing,” Barrera says. “When I got there, a representative talked to me about college and told me about internship opportunities through the program.” Energized by new possibilities, Barrera couldn’t wait to get started.

Designed to assist opportunity youth ages 16 to 24, the Y.E.S. program works with local schools and employers to meet the needs of enrolled participants as they work toward their career goals. A Goodwill representative provided Barrera coaching on dressing for the professional workplace and helped her write a résumé.

“I learned a lot, like how to get a job; how to speak with superiors,” she says.  “I was very shy when I started the internship, but I started to get out of my shell more. I started to speak.”

Almost a year in to her studies, Barrera is doing well at Chattahoochee Tech. Much of her scholastic success results from her internal drive to achieve. Still, she believes she would not be where she is today without support and direction from the Y.E.S. program. “I am very grateful for the program I was in,” she says. “And I am very grateful that I got to go to college.”