At Common Ground, Carlos Granda (Class of 2014) worked with the Urban Resources Initiative and as an environmental educator in afterschool programs. After graduation, Carlos went to college for one semester but could not take out loans, so he left to get a job instead. He is now an electrical salesman and has been with his company for three years. (His company provided all the electrical supplies for Common Ground’s new building!)

Carlos Granda, foreground, works on a Green Jobs Corps crew monitoring water quality o the West River. Photo credit: New Haven Register.

Work that matters, and that grows on you.

“You don’t think it’s an important job, honestly the first year I did it I thought it was silly, like us going around and asking people if they wanted trees to get planted. But my junior year I actually did a project on the importance of having trees around and … the trees are an important part of life! They give us oxygen, they clean oxygen… I remember from the research we found out that having trees reduces the amount of violence in the city, and you don’t look at little stuff like that… To this day I still think about URI because when I drive around my neighborhood, I see the trees that I planted and I can say ‘wow, I planted that tree, and that tree grew from a scrub to a full-blown tree.’ I see that I helped the future of my community. When I’m older and my kids grow up that tree is going to be a full big tree and it’s going to help them breathe and it’s going to give them clean oxygen.”

Making money, and making a difference.

“I honestly do think URI was one of the best experiences I had at common ground, and to be honest the fact that you earn money while you’re doing it to is just awesome. You know, you’re helping the community, you’re coming together with people you don’t know because they’re pairing you up with another student from sound school and they just throw you on a team and they’re like ‘listen, you’re going to wake up at 9am, you’re going to be here, you’re going to be ready, you’re going to plant a tree’ and just those little things make the community stronger and make them come together and do some work together, and at the end of the day you see your end result and you’re proud of what you do, you know, you’re not just doing something for a paycheck, you’re doing it because this is something that you realize there’s a bigger meaning behind.”

Career lessons that last.

“I actually went back into my Common Ground email account and went through all that stuff that we did [in the resume and interview workshops] and… we did that years ago, sophomore, junior year, and I’m using it now, and it helped me land a good job. And now I’ve been at this company for three years.”

A win-win opportunity.

“They’re supporting us with jobs, and we’re supporting them with sweat and effort, and it’s always a win-win situation with Green Jobs Corps.”

This Green Jobs Corps alumni profile is written by Marisa Vargas-Morawetz, who worked as a Yale Presidential Public Service Intern with Common Ground in summer 2017. Read more about what Marisa learned by talking to Green Jobs Corps program alumni, and meet other program alumni.