Jose Jose Irias used his Recycling Truck Driving Pre-Apprenticeship at Civicorps to find a vocation.

After high school Jose Irias tried college, but it wasn’t the right fit. Finances were a problem and the San Leandro resident lost his confidence. Moving from job to job, three years later, Jose still couldn’t find what he was looking for. “I was definitely lost and didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

A friend in the waste management business suggested getting a Class B License. Jose searched online for training programs and came across Civicorps.

“They were promoting ‘Get your Class B License, learn leadership, and gain skills to move on to Waste Management.’ That’s what caught my attention because I know how hard it is to get in these waste companies. I felt like it was a golden ticket.”

Jose was accepted into Civicorps’ Teamster Truck Driver Career Pathway program, the only free truck driver training program in the East Bay for young adults ages 18-26.

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Convinced he had made the right choice from the start, Jose was eager to get to work. After a few weeks, he began helping on a route. “I told myself, ‘This is what I actually want to do for my career.’” With clarity about his future, he focused on building his skill set, actively seeking out opportunities to advance.

He told supervisors, “I’m dedicated. I’m determined. I want to get my Class B License and I want to go to Waste Management.” As his supervisors saw how committed Jose was, they began to promote him. He earned forklift and E-waste certifications and advanced from being a helper to drivers training, where he began to support a route for Oakland International Airport. Within 3 months, Jose had his Class B Permit and was on his way to earning his Class B License.

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During the pandemic, Civicorps Recycling continued to train Corpsmembers and provide essential services to nearly 1,200 accounts throughout the East Bay. In October 2020, Jose passed his Class B License test and was given a Class B truck and route to work on.

“This was really rewarding and it made me feel good.” For the first time, Jose felt like he was going somewhere. “From there I was just waiting to go into Waste Management.”

“It’s not about the money. It’s about paving a career path.”

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Jose attributed his success to his training at Civicorps. Supervisors became mentors who helped him to reach his full potential. “Working there really brought out the leadership in me that I didn’t know I had. He also sharpened his communication skills, which improved interactions with coworkers and supervisors, as well as with family and friends outside of work.

“In the Corps, we have to communicate with each other and it definitely helped improve my communication, my leadership, and overall confidence.”

Confidence came in handy as he navigated the streets of his first Class B route. Civicorps recycling trucks do not have a built-in GPS system, requiring pre-apprentices to learn their route the old-fashioned way—by heart. “You had to pay attention. When they put me on a Class B route, we had to do a lot of properties in Berkeley and it was difficult.” But the winding streets of Berkeley didn’t deter him from his goal and soon enough he knew the route.

Looking back, Jose reflected, “No matter what life throws your way or how difficult it looks, just keep pressing on, keep going and you’ll make it.”

“Jose came into the program ready to get down to business and soak up whatever knowledge he needed to move to the next step. He impressed staff, and helped his coworkers whenever asked—without question. We can’t wait to see the next chapter in his journey unfold.” - Antoine Penn, Recycling Program Coordinator

In July 2021, Jose was accepted into Waste Management’s Apprenticeship program where he is training alongside Civicorps Alumna Lily Nyguen for a permanent position. Jose is motivated to pursue his new vocation. “Civicorps changed my life for the better. I know what I want to do now, and it paved the way for me to build a family.”

Civicorps Recycling Social Enterprise is helping local youth like Jose Irias forge strong careers that bring personal satisfaction while benefiting the community.

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Click here to return to the Civicorps 2021 Annual Report