Driving for success

Ralph Guerrier and his wife just bought a house. The purchase was possible thanks to the financial stability he’s achieved the last three years as a driver for the MBTA.

Guerrier, 38, enjoys his home, his job, and the life he has built with his family. “I’m really happy with where I am right now,” said Guerrier.

It wasn’t always this way. When he was 27, Guerrier emigrated to the U.S. from Haiti with his father and his sister. His mother was already living in New York. Guerrier’s parents, he said, wanted to provide their children with opportunities they would not have in Haiti. But with limited English-speaking skills and no familiarity with how to go about getting and securing a job in the United States, the transition was difficult.

“I was new to the country,” he said. “I didn’t know how anything works.”

In 2008, Guerrier came across a flier promoting Career Collaborative’s job placement-career development programs and enrolled in our job readiness training course. He also brought along two of his friends and his sister, who landed a job about one month after enrolling. Soon afterward, Guerrier landed a job as a dietary aide at a West Roxbury nursing home.

“I can say I’m glad I found Career Collaborative,” Guerrier said. “They really helped me out, just in terms of how to apply for a job, how to act in the workplace because customs in the United States are different from those in Haiti.”

He credits the multiple practice job interviews conducted by our volunteers with helping him ace his actual interviews. With staff encouragement, Guerrier also became more confident about his English language skills.

“Even now, I still have my accent, but when I came here I couldn’t understand anything in English,” he said. “They always told me, ‘You can do it. You can do anything. Everyone on staff, they were there for me—teaching me to shake hands, make eye contact, talk about my skills.”

Guerrier moved on to other jobs from the nursing home, but with each transition he checked back in with Career Collaborative for advice. Eventually, he applied for the position with the MBTA. When he heard back from them, he once again checked in with his coach for assistance and coaching. It took a year for the entire hiring process to play out, but when it was done, Guerrier had a quality job with benefits with which he could support his family.  

“Without Career Collaborative I don’t know exactly where I would be right now,” Guerrier said. “I didn’t get that help where I came from in Haiti. You don’t have to pay for it. It’s your time. If you’re willing to pay attention, learn, if you do what they tell you, you will succeed. I always say, thank god for those people.”

Guerrier offers this advice to those who may be struggling to find work amid new or unfamiliar circumstances and surroundings: “Don’t be discouraged. Always believe in your dream. Ask for help if you need it.”

Career Collaborative