Returning After 7 Years

Having been deployed numerous times, Steve Kovacs endured several hurdles before finally being able to complete his CDL. On top of this, he told us, “I was 183 miles from the school and had to run another household.”

“I just wanted to get my CDL to have a backup when I was going to come off active duty,” said Steve.

After all this time, he finally passed his test for class A and the passenger endorsement, both back to back one day after the other. “Just listen to your instructor, they know what they are doing,” he shared. “[It's] a very good military school with flexible options… very satisfied, will definitely recommend [California Career School].”

Last time we spoke with him, he had obtained a pre-hire with a large carrier shortly after his graduation.

We want to congratulate Steve for enduring towards his goal and then very immediately finding a job afterwards!

Helping His Family From Afar

UPDATE: Jacob came back to our headquarters last week to share that he is about to buy his own truck and has secured a job for Fedex doing OTR as an owner operator! After things settle down for a bit, he will be visiting his family in Liberia to see what he can do for them.

Congratulations Jacob!!

Eight years ago, Jacob Benson left his home in Liberia, Africa to pursue his dream of becoming a professional truck driver and find a way to help support the family he had just left behind.

Jacob dedicated the next few years to saving up money so that he could help his family get away from the war in Liberia. He worked diligently. Eventually, Jacob had sent enough money that his family was able to move out of Liberia and start a new life in the safety of Ghana. Once he knew that his loved ones were safe and well provided for, he was able to pursue his dream.

Jacob enrolled in trucking school. He completed his training, received his CDL and applied for a driving position with Swift Transportation. Although his application was approved, when it came time to complete Swift’s driving tests, Jacob found himself struggling. “The experience I got in training wasn’t enough.” Jacob stated, “I had my license but the type of transmission I was used to driving was not up to their standards.” Swift recommended that Jacob reapply after completing some additional training.

Disappointed but determined to succeed, Jacob had a realization. He explained, “I found California Career School a few years ago. A truck class was training in a lot behind my house. I stopped and talked to the instructor, Robert, about my plans to become a truck driver. I wasn’t ready at the time but he told me to contact the school as soon as I was… and that is how I ended up at California Career School.”

At enrollment, Jacob explained his situation. Since he had already obtained his CDL, it was agreed that the classroom time and permit study would be redundant. Jacob was given credit for the first two weeks of the program and joined his classmates once they were ready to head out on the road. “The training offered here was so much better.” Jacob said “At my previous school, I was trained on an 8 speed, 28 foot trailer. Here, we train only on full size trailers with 10 speed manual transmission. My first day training here I said, ‘wow, backing a 48 foot truck is very different than backing a 28 foot truck.’” He continued, “I was also able to drive on the freeways here. I was never given that opportunity at the other school. Robert made sure to let me practice in the real situations that I will face as a professional trucker.”

Jacob met with his placement coordinator early in training to get started on the pre-hire process. He applied for driving positions with Swift Transportation, Werner Enterprises, Gordon Trucking Inc., CRST, Schneider, Covenant Transport, US Xpress and Stevens Transportation. Jacob wanted to choose a company that he would stay with for the duration of his career, so he began researching each of the carriers to find his perfect fit. Jacob explained, “I looked at each company’s policies, how well and how long they train you and I read the testimonies of their drivers. I also looked at what kind of equipment they provided and whether or not they upgraded it on a regular basis.”

Ultimately, all (yes, ALL) of the carriers he applied for responded and offered him a position with their company. Jacob had already decided that he would like to work for Covenant Transportation. He smiled and said, “My first choice was Covenant and I am sticking to it.”

Jacob just completed his training with Covenant and stopped by to visit while he was in town waiting to be assigned a truck. He told me stories from the road and talked about the different kinds of weather conditions he had encountered while driving with his mentor. Jacob has finally achieved his goal! I asked what he planned to do next. Without hesitation, Jacob replied, “Once I have driven for one year, by the grace of God, I am going to buy my own truck and become an owner operator. Then I will come back to visit and show you my truck. I couldn’t have done this without you.”

Before leaving, there was one more update that Jacob wanted to share… he had just received his legal resident status and would finally be able to visit his family in Liberia!!!

What an exciting couple of months it’s been!!! Congratulations Jacob from all of us at California Career School! We are so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to share in your success. Good luck out there! We are looking forward to your next update!!!

“I would recommend California Career School to anybody that wants to be a professional truck driver. I would like to thank the instructors for their efficiency and the administration for being very professional, helpful and kind towards me and everybody that I trained with.”
–Jacob Benson

Author: Rachel Herold

Girly Driver

“I am very girly,” explained Natalie Jasso-Padilla, 2010 graduate from the CCS commercial truck and bus training program. We asked her, why get into trucking? Her biggest motivation, she told us, was to beat the stereotype of female truckers and that even a ‘girly girl’ like herself would be able to succeed in the profession. When Natalie is not in her truck, she rides a Suzuki GSXR600, already a step beyond what most women are comfortable with. “I was hit on the way to an interview,” she referred to one of her first applications after earning her CCS certificate. An accident occurred with vehicles in front of her that did not see her bike. She picked up road rash despite wearing appropriate gear. “When I got there, I was so embarrassed!” But she got the job– it’s local and she is able to come home every night.

Natalie trained with her truck driver stepdad for a little bit before coming to California Career School. MyCAA funding and the ability to receive a lot of drive time is what helped her choose CCS. MyCAA is the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts method of funding for student tuition available to military spouses. Natalie’s husband Oscar was deployed during her attendance at our school and his being in the military opened up this avenue of funding for Natalie. We just helped her get the paperwork arranged.

One of the hardest parts of training was pre-trip and 5 point. She laughed as she explained why she made this hard for herself. “Parts of the truck– I didn’t care to learn it. I hated it! I had a little bit of stubbornness. What Donnavin [CCS instructor] did is take the time to make sure I knew it.”

“Start from the beginning!” Donnavin repeated to her over and over to make sure that everything was reviewed as many times as possible. After regular training hours were done, he showed her additional material like power points and books– whatever was available to help her understand this key section of the course. “I just wanted to drive!” Natalie said, “But I knew I had to learn it.” With the right attitude and the extra push from her instructor, she made it through.

We talked for quite some time. Natalie had tons of stories of what she’d seen on the road from her towering cab, some much better shared after hours! There would be strange people hovering by her truck for miles and police activity of Hollywood proportions, “I’ve seen the SWAT team, 5, like 10 cop cars– it was just like loaded!” She put it this way, “You’re gonna see things that you don’t want to see because you’re constantly on the road.”

“I’ve always wanted to drive a truck… I knew it was going to be hard but you don’t really know until you’re out there.” Numerous times, especially in the realm of parking her trailer, Natalie described the unusual set-ups that drivers have to maneuver through and the inconveniences posed by the circumstances. It is absolutely regular for her to park her truck and be told afterwards that male counterparts could have done it better. “You have to be strong,” she went on, “especially when you’re a girl ’cause the guys are mean.”

Since the beginning, Natalie wanted to break the expectations of what women can do and of what others think of female truckers. “It’s not easy, but what helps me is I get to be a role model. [On the road] I like being next to school buses because the little girls see me– they’re smiling and waving. Kids in cars say, ‘Mom, look!'”

Trucking Student Pushes His Limits to Succeed

Jose Hunter endured daily hurdles that other students did not experience. His living arrangements and travel distance often made it difficult to meet class attendance but he made this area a priority. As a result of this and a series of factors in his life, the truck and bus course, designed to train students in as little as 7 and a half weeks, took Jose over 3 months to complete. “It was a challenge,” he told us, “You gotta be willing to help– always gotta be willing to help yourself.”

Now that he has graduated, we asked him about the next step. “Look for a job!” he laughed, “Can’t just twiddle my fingers– gotta put them to work!”

We asked Jose what led him to California Career School. “It’s the knowledge and caring of the people,” he described CCS and the instructors who helped him. “Donnavin– he takes things pretty seriously– I appreciate it. He took the time to help. Ken is witty– he’s cool. I’m grateful to Robert for a lot of things that he’s done. All three of them have a kind heart. [...] Everyone was really supportive– and Chuck, for being caring.”

Chuck Emanuele, director of California Career School, talked to Jose many times over the duration of his training. “I saw him day after day studying. We are here to help the students who want to help themselves, who are dedicated to training, who will put the time and effort into their training.”

“The school becomes what the workers– what the people make it,” Jose concluded. “Talk to [California Career School],” he said, “because you guys are friendly. You want the right training? Come over here!”

Driver Shortage

The American Trucking Association (ATA) is expecting long-haul driver positions to rise to 111,000 openings by the year 2014. Quality in training has been the main concern of carriers– applicants are less favored for not receiving DOT certified training.

To probe further, this means one key thing for drivers who are qualified and properly trained: more positions are going to be available. There is a shortage due to quality, due to freight getting more expensive and lessened supply, and other things. Additionally, proposed hours of service regulations for 2011, if passed, will reduce carrier productivity, so more trucks and drivers will be needed to haul the same amount of freight.

There is also the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program. Carriers are given a CSA score based on performance related to safety. ATA reports that approximately 7% of drivers cause scoring issues for carriers. Carriers will stiffen pre-employment screening in an effort to reduce the likelihood of hiring drivers that generate these poor CSA scores.

Due to all of these activities, these are chances for properly trained drivers to get positions in an industry that is estimated to run severely short of qualified hands. If a new or returning driver receives DOT certified, up-to-date training, the odds of landing a job are purported to be on the positive.

Reported from correspondence with the California Trucking Association
Photo by Kerri Alexander

Pre-Hired Before Completing

Before she enrolled, Vanessa Abdin had been showing interest in our commercial truck driver program. Her three daughters were all grown, their children were grown, and now a great grandchild had also been born! Vanessa was “wanting a change in careers,” she told us. “I have worked as [an] LVN and surg. tech for the last thirty-eight years. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to be free, see the country and get paid.”

To qualify for our professional trucking program, there were several requirements that she needed to meet—one of them being a conditional pre-hire with a trucking company. Pre-hire applications entail review of the applicant’s driving record, criminal background and ability to meet any other expectations at that company’s discretion.

Rachel Herold, our placement coordinator, explained the benefits of sending out as many applications as possible, regardless of whether an individual has begun our program yet or not. She was “stressing the importance of getting these done now,” now being as soon as Vanessa showed interest in the program in the first place. That way, Rachel went on, “They could really focus on their training… Fill out all of the applications that you can… The rest of your training can be spent looking at your options, making the best choice that can fit your needs.” Vanessa began the process by completing applications to Swift, Werner, CRST, and GTI. She was accepted by three of them.

Upon receipt of her CDL on March 23, 2011, Vanessa had options to choose from because of these pre-hires that she sought out—she chose Werner.

“I’m very proud of myself,” Vanessa wrote to us. Once she gets through her orientation at Werner, we hope to see her travels as she goes over the road to finally travel the whole country. Congratulations Vanessa!

How to Choose a Trucking School

Ever thought about getting your class A license to drive a truck? If the answer is yes, make sure you’re going to a school that gives you the right training that will lead you to the job that you’re looking for!

  1. Does your school offer placement assistance? What are your placement rates for this program?
    California Career School offers nationwide placement assistance. Most of our students have job offers before they even graduate. Our Commercial Truck Driver Training program placement rate is over 90%.
  2. Do you have financial aid available?
    California Career School offers federal student aid as well as other funding options to assist you in covering the cost of your tuition. We will assign you a financial aid representative who will help you explore every option available. Most of our students receive enough funding to cover the total cost of their tuition **must meet eligibility requirements for funding. Additionally, we are approved for training of Veterans by the VA.
  3. What size is your equipment?
    California Career School’s students train on full size equipment so our graduates are prepared to work for a major carrier. Class 8 vehicles, 45’-53’ trailers, super 10 and straight 10 transmissions.
  4. Are endorsements included in my training?
    California Career School truck program includes training on all the endorsements: airbrakes, doubles, triples, tankers AND hazmat endorsements. *Passenger endorsement offered in our bus program.
  5. How long is the course? What hours are recommended by the major carriers?
    California Career School Class A program is 240 hours of training. The major carriers who hire from CCS recommend 240 hours of training and give priority to CCS graduates because of the program length.
  6. What are your instructor’s credentials?
    Our instructors are state certified to instruct (BPPE) and have many years of over the road experience. They meet all state and national accreditation instructor standards.
  7. What happens if I don’t pass at the DMV the 1st time?
    California Career School has the highest DMV pass rate. If for some reason you do not pass on the 1st try, your instructor will continue to work with you up to as many times as the DMV allows a retest on your permit.
  8. Is your school accredited?
    California Career School is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and state approved by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and our curriculum is approved by our Advisory Board.
  9. Where are your training sites? Will I be required to drive my own vehicle to offsite training locations?
    Our main training campus is in Anaheim. Students will travel together in our CCS trucks and will not be required to drive their own vehicle to and from areas like our skills yards. We have contract training locations throughout Southern California and in Yuma, AZ.
  10. How many students are in a class?
    California Career School limits our class size for Over the Road Instruction to 4 students. This allows each student to maximum their driving time and eliminate the frustration of standing in line for a turn behind the wheel.

If you have further questions, feel free to email us or call (800) 499-6585!

Click here for more information on our Commercial Trucking Program
Also check out our Commercial Bus Program

Marine Robert Puga Gets His CDL

Robert Puga recently earned his class A license passing each of the three tests on his very first try. Robert talks about his experiences with California Career School and what he plans to do with his new license.

We asked him about what led him to CCS. “Well for one the school is accredited and its been around for 41 years,” Robert described. “My buddy ***** is the one who told me about CCS and said the training methods were good.”

“The challenge for me,” he went on, “was I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I got out [of the military]. I thought that maybe if I could not find a job I could use my class A to find a job. Now having driven a big rig I know that’s what I want to do.”

Experiencing something new is not without surprises, trials, and tribulations. “The difficulties or obstacles during my training were the alley dock and parallel parking. I overcame those obstacles because I had an instructor there to guide me in the right direction.” However, Robert reflected, “The moments that stand out from my training is the confidence the instructors had in me.” He went on to describe his instructors Ward, Ryan, John, and Randall as, “effective, knowledgeable, [and] understanding.”

“What [was] surprising and unexpected was how soon you get to start driving.”

In the end, what was most valuable to him was the design of the course. “Breaking up the training objectives and moving on to do different things during class,” Robert shared with us.

“It is a great school and would recommend to my friends… If you want knowledgeable instructors with OJT [on the job training] come to CCS.”

Congratulations to Robert and we wish you luck in your future endeavors with your new-found commercial truck driver’s license!

Mr. Cross Country– Timothy Flacy

Over a matter of 4 weeks, Timothy Flacy has traveled through nearly 30 states of the continental US. When we met with him on Friday, his current traveled miles was 15,516.

“The first time that I went out, I went to Phoenix and I was on my way to Corpus Christi. It was a great drive,” said Tim coming out of California.

Mr. Flacy is able to accomplish this via a 6 week mentoring program provided through Swift Transportation. For new hires, trucking companies typically require a certain amount of weeks performing team driving with a more experienced driver in that company. After this period is over and after a driver is deemed safe and competent over the road, he or she may begin driving alone.

For Tim, logging his travels on his Facebook account has allowed his family and friends to see what he’s been up to. Pages and pages of photographs populate all of his posts as of late and the enthusiasm and support that his family provides helps to remind him that there is always home to come back to after working hard driving all over the US.

“Just enjoying my time,” he told us, “just enjoying the scenery in Albuquerque.” After he shared more of his pictures with us, he shook his head recalling his experiences with the weather, “Below zero was the coldest I’ve ever been into, that was Colorado!” He made sure not to forget this other very important item: “I wished my mom happy birthday.”

List of states that Tim has visited to date:
Washington
Oregon
California
Nevada
Arizona
Idaho
Montana
North Dakota
New Mexico
Texas
Oklahoma
Kansas
Minnesota
Wisconsin
Iowa
Missouri
Tennessee
Kentucky
Indiana
Illinois
Ohio
Virginia
North Carolina
South Carolina
Georgia
New York
Pennsylvania
Connecticut
Michigan

We told Tim to let us know once he reaches all 48 mainland states– he’s not that far away from that goal! Thank you Tim for coming out to see us during your short visit to SoCal before going back out. You were a fantastic student, staying attentive and never missing a day of class, and we’re sure that your new employer will see this as well. Drive safe and keep enjoying your travels!

How One Student Overcame Funding

Over the summer, Alex Alonso came to California Career School to obtain his Class A license and secure employment as a truck driver. Funding, however, proved to be a very difficult ordeal.

Alex needed to secure a way to pay for school– a struggle that many students across the country have always experienced. “I appreciate what the school did for me. They used their expertise to find me the best financial resources for my situation.”

What Alex was referring to was being unable to obtain training funds through key agencies like the EDD/WIA and he also did not qualify for federal student aid. On top of this, he was unable to use his VA benefits because his daughter had been utilizing it for her education.

To combat these hurdles, California Career School assisted Alex in his search of alternative funding options. By making use of the military veterans’ discount that California Career School offers and by placing him with an employer partner who offers tuition reimbursement, Alex’s tuition cost was covered 100%.

Alex completed our training program at the top of his class, obtaining both his Class A and Class B license on his first try. “I know I got the best training at California Career School because when I went to the DMV, it showed. The other school’s student looked like it was the first time in a truck.”

Now that Alex has completed all 300 hours of his training, he will begin his truck driving career with Werner Enterprises. “I am looking forward to getting started. This is something I have always wanted to do. After my recent lay off and just celebrating my 47th birthday, I felt this was the perfect time to fulfill a lifetime goal.”