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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Former Navistar employee Dianna Cole is studying for a bachelor’s degree in engineering at IPFW.

Furloughed workers struggle to find jobs


Despite their impressive résumés and offers of career counseling, many former Navistar International Corp. workers are struggling to find jobs in their chosen field.

The company’s staggered cutbacks continue to put more workers out of jobs, flooding an already tight engineering market with more job hunters.

Here are the stories of three Navistar employees who were laid off last December.

John Rian, 42

Education: An associate degree in mechanical design from Ivy Tech and a bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana Wesleyan

Position: Design engineer, responsible for buses and some work on Caterpillar products

Years with Navistar: 13

Career plans: He hopes to find an engineering job in Indiana, closer to his mother, who is in a nursing home.

Job hunting experience: “It was pretty bad. I couldn’t find anything,” Rian said. After six months, he accepted a contract engineering position in Miami. He and his fiancée, who sells Mary Kay cosmetics, are living in a Florida apartment with her two infants. She has four older children back in Indiana.

Rian has a 13-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter, who turns 12 on Halloween. “I’m looking to move back North as soon as I can,” said Rian, who believes even bad things happen for a reason.

Dianna Cole, 53

Education: An associate degree in engineering earned through the Magnavox apprentice program

Position: Design engineer

Years with Navistar: 13

Family: Married with two grown children, one living at home

Career plans: Cole was working her way up the Navistar ladder to become a project manager, but she found other companies require a bachelor’s degree for those positions. She decided to go to college, using benefits offered by the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

“It’s kind of really eye-opening, the first few weeks here,” she said, talking between classes at IPFW. “Getting back into school was really scary.”

Cole started classes in August and expects to earn a bachelor’s degree in August 2014.

“I’m the only girl in the graduation group,” she said. “I’m the only old fart.”

Job hunting experience: “I would file maybe 20 to 30 résumés a week,” Cole said. “I’m still getting rejections on ones I sent in four or five months ago.”

She interprets that as meaning she’s been in the running for various openings up to a point before losing out on the job.

“The opportunities just don’t seem to be here,” said Cole, who has worked in engineering for more than 30 years and has two patents.

Brad Manes, 51

Education: Associate degree in industrial design/drafting from Ivy Tech Community College

Position: Design engineer

Years with Navistar: 13

Family: Single, no kids

Career plans: Manes is moving to Indianapolis to take a contract engineering job at Rolls-Royce. He doesn’t know how long the position will last.

Earlier this year, Manes took what was supposed to be a six-month contract position in Florida only to be let go after three months.

It was bad timing, he said; the same day Manes started work, the company bought an engineering firm in India, reducing its need for stateside engineers.

Manes has lived his entire life on a Fort Wayne farm his grandparents bought.

He farms 69 acres – planting corn this year – and his parents are his next-door neighbors.

Job hunting experience: Frustrating. “There’s nothing local, that’s for sure,” he said about openings. He has submitted résumés to BAE Systems, ITT Exelis, Franklin Electric Co., Fort Wayne Metals Research Products Corp., WaterFurnace Renewable Energy Inc. and other, smaller companies.

Manes desperately hopes to move back to Fort Wayne. But, for now, he’s off to Indianapolis to start a job on Wednesday.

“I gotta do what I gotta do,” he said.