Cobb County native Octavious Williams had long been interested in fitness, earning an exercise physiology degree from Valdosta State University. He planned to become a clinical exercise physiologist, but after a discouraging internship interview, had second thoughts. It seemed that to succeed in this field, he needed a degree from a more prestigious university.

Undaunted, Octavious completed an internship in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, then went on to warehouse work which he obtained through family connections. Somewhere during this time, he started becoming interested in technology.

He returned to Smyrna and through self-study, earned certification as a computer technical assistant. Calls from recruiters quickly followed, but Octavious hit another roadblock, as he was unable to get a job due to lack of experience.

Octavious spent the next six-and-a-half years working for the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, where he performed a variety of roles — from wellness coach, to personal training, and counseling those enrolled in weight loss programs. In late 2019, he decided to begin work on the prerequisites needed to enroll in a physical therapy assistant program with the ultimate goal of becoming a physical therapist.

Octavious’ interest in technology never waned and he continued to look for opportunities. When he saw a LinkedIn ad about Goodwill’s Technology Careers Program, he recalled that he had previously received information about the program after obtaining his technology certification. He decided to visit the Smyrna Career Center to learn more. With his career path taking more twists and turns than he anticipated, he thought pursuing this program would lead him in a new direction – and the program seemed tailor-made for him.

He enrolled in March 2021 and quickly emerged as a leader in his cohort. Although it was difficult to juggle his full-time job at the YMCA with attending classes and the extensive homework, he persevered – even when an internship was added. During this time he left his job because he believed the internship was going to lead to full-time employment. When that didn’t occur, he took on gig jobs like DoorDash to make ends meet. He remained focused, going on several interviews each week.