King Jermaine Jones was hired for a job two weeks before he even completed his robotics training at Macomb’s M-TEC facility in 2014, restoring his belief in himself and society in general.
“People can tell you that you are going to get a job, but that doesn’t mean you will,” says Jones. “I didn’t want to put the time and energy into it if it was only going to be another dead end. But the instructors knew what they were talking about and that gave me confidence to proceed.”
Confidence, Jones admits, was in short supply after five years in prison. The Detroit Central High School graduate was attending Eastern Michigan University when he ran into some “bad luck” that led to his incarceration. When he was released, his criminal record blocked most all of his attempts to enter the workforce via a minimum wage job.
“It was so difficult knowing you were qualified but you still couldn’t get hired,” relates Jones. “But life doesn’t stop, and I figured if I learned a skill, I would have a better chance of getting past my criminal record. After completing this program, no one seemed to care as long as I could do the job.”
From that first robotics position, Jones progressed to another, and then another, each enhancing his skills and his salary, before reaching the level of robotics engineer. That’s when he decided that there were so many opportunities available to an individual with his skillset that he decided to make the leap to contract work.
“Contracting allows you to gain a lot of experience,” says Jones. “The average contracting job lasts about three months and they pay you very well. And this type of work provides me the opportunity to pursue my passion, which is entrepreneurship.”
Jones’ most recent venture will be in Las Vegas. He has leased space in a mall and plans to open a fish spa, where patrons will dip their feet into a tank and experience an exfoliation like no other. He first came across one in Cancun, and then realized they were all the rage in tropical destinations. He believes they will catch on in the U.S., but, perhaps, he acknowledges, not in Michigan.
“I did my research. About 40 million come through this Vegas mall annually, that’s like two to three times the foot traffic of 12 Oaks,” he says, no pun intended.
“Before M-TEC, it was difficult for me to find a job,” notes Jones. “Now these skills are allowing me to pursue my other interests as well as provide for my three-year-old daughter. It definitely has been a turning point in my life.”