Fort Bliss soldier and diesel technician Sgt. Manuel Lopez spends most of his days at EPISD’s bus barn and transportation hub working side-by-side technicians to get a feel for life after the military.
He’s part of the 12-week Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship program through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to get training and prepare for the civilian workforce. So far, he’s traded working on military vehicles to learning how to fix school buses and repairing other small engines in the District’s transportation department.
“Every week, he’s going to transfer to a different service area and learn everything from preventative maintenance to major repair,” said Jason Zamora, assistant auto shop fleet coordinator. “We’re also going to provide him with insight into the administrative side of a shop so he can get a well-rounded, full-shop operation experience.”
The Fort Bliss soldier, who spent eight years in the army, will be leaving the military in January and hopes a relevant position will open in EPISD for him to apply.
“Having the opportunity to learn a different motor pool lets me get a feel for how people work, how they communicate and how they do their paper trail,” Lopez said. “This is the best way to do it.”
Lopez, who is a few classes shy of a bachelor’s degree in business, wants to further learn about EPISD as he seeks employment as a civilian. Overall, Lopez is finding EPISD’s structure and work to be much different than the vehicles and culture he’s used to in the military.
“I’m actually getting a feel for a position I could be applying for,” he said. “Everyday, I’m learning so if I am offered a position, I’ll know more about the district.”
One of the first days of his fellowship, Lopez fixed weed eaters and the motors on smaller four-wheeled vehicles and tools.
“This gives him an idea what we do so he’ll be ready for an automotive shop in the civilian world,” Zamora said. “We’re really happy to have him. We’re excited that we can contribute and help him get ready for the future.”
EPISD was one of the first to partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on the program, which is sponsored by Prudential. Since EPISD began working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in 2016, three other soldiers have benefitted from working alongside professionals in the District’s human resources, research and accountability departments and at Chapin High School.
“Our overall goal is to help service members before they get out of the military and get on-the-job training, help them with resume skills and interview skills and put them with a company that’s ready to bring in a veteran,” said Carla Miller, fellowship program manager with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
Other El Paso businesses and organizations working with the foundation to train exiting service members include El Paso Electric, ADP and First Light Federal Credit Union.
“The fellowship helps service members because many of them have never interviewed for a job or have a resume,” Miller said. “They don’t know what Corporate America is like so working in the fellowship allows them to learn more about working with civilians. It also gives them time to network in the community, which is also important in finding a job.”