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New Coast, New Career: “Since the Sponsors Invested in Me, I Thought, I’m Going to Invest in Them”

When Auriston Peabody relocated from New York to Los Angeles in 2020, he had been maintaining a long-distance relationship with a woman going back several years. But then, COVID threatened their ability to travel back and forth and see one another, so with uncertainty looming and no serious job holding him back, Auriston made the leap.

The big life change offered an opportunity for Auriston to try a new line of work. Always one to “fix” things, whether it was a computer or a leaky pipe, apartment maintenance seemed like a great fit. Not long after arriving in Los Angeles, he started working at a small apartment community.

“I was doing maintenance work, helping the manager care for the property,” Auriston explains. “I did that for 8 to 9 months, and during that process, he urged me to get my maintenance certificate.” The apartment community manager wanted to hire him on a more permanent basis.

However, life had other plans. Auriston’s girlfriend, a nurse, came down with COVID from working on the frontlines. He was forced to miss work for more than a week, during which time another maintenance worker was sent out instead. When Auriston could return to work, the job was no longer available.

He looked into other opportunities. “It just seemed so hard,” Auriston recalls. When he saw an ad for the JVS SoCal ApartmentWorks program online, he thought it was too good to be true. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is exactly what I need.’” It offered the certificate in apartment maintenance he needed to land a good job and work his way up at an apartment community. He applied immediately.

The accelerated 8-week program gave him the basics on apartment maintenance, from patching walls, to plumbing, to fixing appliances. “Not only did we do the book and learn online, we had a lot of hands-on experience fixing things,” he explains. He graduated the program as a Certified Apartment Maintenance Technician (CAMT).

On graduation day, many of the program’s sponsors—many of them are larger apartment community companies—came to interview the graduates for open positions. It was challenging for Auriston, as he had little experience and no transportation. Still, an offer came through from Avalon Bay Communities for an entry-level technician position—not the level he was hoping for, but with the opportunity for growth.

“I remembered what I learned from one of my instructors,” tells Auriston. “He said we need to be open to starting at the bottom and working our way up. Since the sponsors had invested in me with the program, I thought, I’m going to invest in them.” He accepted the position. Since it’s a long commute every day, JVS SoCal even provided Auriston with a transportation stipend for some time to help during the transition to work. “For me personally, the ApartmentWorks program has been an incredible opportunity,” he says. “The instructors/mentors are exceptional. I also really appreciate the apartment communities that support the program.”

Are you interested in helping others like Auriston to get the career training they need to succeed? Learn more here.