Success Stories


John Williams. Photo by Richard Wallace.

John Williams, a single father of 4 sons, was looking to move from Sacramento back to the Bay Area but he was worried about the rising costs to live in the area.

“I wanted to start my life over, but I wasn’t quite sure of what direction to go or what to do,” he said.

After visiting the West Oakland Neighborhood Career Center in March, Project Director Marilyn Norman encouraged Williams to attend a hiring event for jobs with Tesla.

After submitting his resume and continuing through the hiring process, Williams was offered a position in Tesla’s powertrain department, assembling battery packs for the electric cars.

“I had never built cars in my life, but I learn fast, I work well with other people and I know how to ask questions,” Williams said, having previously worked for the solar company Unisun.

“I believe in preparation – you have to be prepared so you don’t have to get ready (for that opportunity),” he added.

Williams was trained as a “hybrid employee” with Tesla so he can work across several departments within the company. Just last week, he was offered a permanent position to continue working with the energy-efficient company.

“Tesla looks for good people, they don’t necessarily look for someone who can build a car from the ground up,” he said. “What they’re doing there is innovative. I love working for a company that really cares about the environment.”

Williams had an opportunity to meet Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk, and what Musk said really resonated with him. “It’s not just me, it’s all of you guys that make this dream possible,” Musk said to Williams.

Williams says the West Oakland Neighborhood Career Center and Marilyn basically helped him change his life.

“Marilyn said I would do well with (a job at Tesla). I have her to thank for that because I didn’t know what direction to go. She gave me a chance and wanted me to be successful,” he shared. “I love what I do.”

What he takes great pride in is showing his sons the electric cars that he’s helped to build.




Myron Turner

When Myron Turner was released from prison in 1989 and started looking for a job, the process was at most times discouraging for him. After attending the PIC program for over two decades, his experience going on job interviews and applying for various positions taught him many lessons.

“I was resistant to the change that was available to me at the time,” Myron said. He was often hesitant to disclose information about his past in fear of losing a job opportunity.

The tables turned for him when he was honest about his background on a job application. He was offered the job!

He said he learned that despite his past, “there are opportunities out there and don’t be discouraged.”

“I learned at PIC not to leave anything blank. Be impressionable with employers and on your job applications,” he said.

Myron has now been working as a Service Technician for the City of Oakland since 2012 and sits on the Advisory Board of the Day Reporting Centers of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He is also a mentor and motivational speaker to other parolees, hoping to inspire them to have a positive outlook on life.

“As my thinking changed, my behavior changed. As my behavior changed, my character changed. As my character changed, my destiny has changed,” Myron said.



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With tunnel vision, Teaira, 19, was determined to position herself for a job where she could achieve financial stability. As a student working to complete her high school diploma, Teaira enrolled in PIC’s Highway to Work (H2W) Program last year.

The Highway to Work Program provides support to young people ages 14-19 that are in the juvenile justice or social service systems as they continue their education and gain work experience.

Through the program, Teaira gained valuable skills and on-the-job experience working as an assistant at PIC and completed her high school diploma. She later attended and graduated from The Bread Project Bakery Production Bootcamp. She currently works at Safeway and wants to continue studying culinary arts.

Teaira hopes to have her own restaurant one day. She says having the support of PIC staff and Highway to Work Manager Carla Liggins really helped her accomplish her goals.

“The Highway to Work Program helped me move further on in life,” said Teaira. “Without this program, I’d still be in the same position I was in. I gained work experience to add onto my resume and growth as a young woman.”



Sylvia photo

Sylvia (pictured) recently started working at the Unity Council after receiving help in her job search from the Oakland PIC. Photo by Ashley Chambers.

For Oakland resident Sylvia, one mistake should not define who a person is. She is a testament to that.

After having a run-in with the law 13 years ago, she has been searching for work for the past four years.

Last week, her search ended at the Unity Council where she now works as a program assistant. During her long job search, she had almost reached a breaking point.

“I kept thinking my record would deter me from getting a job. I felt hopeless,” Sylvia said, overcome with emotion.

After the Unity Council referred her to the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC), she met counselors Louis King and Ellen Hoeft Edenfield. Their support and resources helped restore her hope in gaining employment despite her previous history.

“I met Mr. King and he gave me really good hope,” she said. “He told me, we can help you.”

“I’m very grateful for organizations like Unity Council and Oakland PIC. They really care about people. They made me feel comfortable and okay in dealing with my issue.”

She hopes to find a support group where she can help others who have a prior record find employment. Sylvia looks forward to growing in her new job and applying her computer and language skills to help her community.

(Sylvia’s last name has been omitted from the article to protect her identity).