Success comes when you hit the ground running

adelunaAlex DeLuna graduated from Trident Technical College, but needed a way to gain work experience to help get her on the road to her career. Alex heard about the Palmetto Youth Connections (PYC) program from staff at the Trident United Way Berkeley Prosperity Center. She attended an information session at the PYC location in Berkeley County at the Moncks Corner Goodwill Job Link Center to learn more information.

Once Alex was a part of the Palmetto Youth Connections program, she quickly hit the ground running. She not only achieved a Gold Work Keys Work Readiness Certificate, but also completed the three day Career Smart employability workshop and the week long National Retail Federation (NRF) Customer Service Training, obtaining her Nationally Recognized Customer Service Certification. Alex enjoyed Career Smart and NRF training because she was able to learn how to successfully obtain employment with resume writing and interviewing skills and the key necessities she would need for the workforce environment on how to assess and meet customer’s needs.

Alex then completed a twelve-week work experience opportunity as a Center Coordinator and Administrative Assistant with the Trident United Way Berkeley Prosperity Center. She received outstanding evaluations from her supervisors and was able to add case management and customer service to her resume.

Alex’s Career Coach, Ms. Galati, and her work experience supervisor, Shakelia LeBlanc, are so proud of all of her and commented on what an amazing young woman she is. They have enjoyed watching her grow in the program, and gain a high level of confidence and professionalism that make her stand out. They are excited to say that she has become a person that any employer would be lucky to have on their team.

Ticket to Work program helped Kim get back on her feet

Kim Doctor TTW photoKim Doctor was receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, but wanted to be financially independent. She heard about the Ticket to Work program, a free and voluntary service that is available to help individuals with disabilities connect with employment services, so she went to the Conway SC Works office to learn more.

She learned that she was eligible for the Ticket to Work program and she could still receive her benefits until she was able to sustain herself. To help her re-enter the workforce, Kim and a workforce consultant created an Individualized Work Plan (IWP) that outlined and gave focus to priorities, like creating a resume in SC Works Online Services (jobs.scworks.org).

As part of her IWP she decided she start with part-time work, with the long-term goal of working full-time. She had a history of working as an office clerk and as a cashier, so she began submitting applications with several call center representative and cashier positions. In the meantime, Kim and her workforce consultant worked on her interviewing skills to help her prepare.

Kim secured an interview with Olsten Staffing as a call center representative and was later offered the position; however, because it was for temporary work, it didn’t align with her IWP so she decided to pass up that position and continue focusing on her long-term goals. She then submitted an application with Dollar General as a cashier. She was ecstatic when they called her for an interview because that position would give her the part-time work that she was seeking. Using her knowledge from the interview preparations with her workforce consultant, she aced her meeting and was offered the position.

She is now employed in a position she enjoys and continues to work with her Work Incentives Planning Assistant regional representative in order to make a smooth transition from benefit dependent to employed.

Kim said, “I think my experience with SC Works shows that the staff really cares about the people they are serving. I honestly do not think I would be employed right now without the assistance of the SC Works office.”

Veteran that was once out of a job now helps other veterans in their time of need

Jason Schulz was in the Army for more than 23 years and had three tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq. When he retired from the military in 2014 he decided to move to Greenville, S.C. where he quickly found work.

Unfortunately the position was short-lived. Close to 10 months after being hired the company started personnel realignments in preparation for a sale and Jason and several of his coworkers were laid off.

He immediately began a new job search utilizing the tools were offered to him through the SC Works center. He used those resources to begin networking in the veteran community.

Through this process, Jason learned that, like him, many veterans have barriers to employment, and he wanted to help others having similar issues. In September 2015 he founded the Upstate Veteran Business Network. This group is dedicated to creating a meaningful and lasting network of veterans in the Upstate of South Carolina and to help current veteran-focused organizations improve their services.

Shortly after starting the Upstate Veteran Business Network, Jason met Eric McAbee, a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program (DVOP) specialist with the Spartanburg SC Works center. He was able to educate Jason on the resources available to veterans through the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW), specifically Operation Palmetto Employment (OPE). Through a partnership between DEW and the S.C. National Guard, OPE is a resource for veterans to help them find meaningful civilian careers.

He decided to attend an OPE summit, and there he heard about various employers in his area that were certified Palmetto Military Employers (PME), a certification process for employers who actively hire and retain veteran employees. One employer stood out to him the most – Cooper Standard Automotive. At the end of the event they talked about a job fair happening the following day where many of the PMEs would be attending.

He took the opportunity to go to the job fair and made sure that he met with an HR representative from Cooper Standard. He gave them his resume and began talking to them about opportunities within their company. They were looking for someone to fill production positions, a position in which he wasn’t interested, but they told him they were also looking for a Shipping and Receiving Manager, a position that had not yet been posted.

Jason was later hired as the shipping and receiving supervisor and he says that he has enjoyed the veteran friendly atmosphere of the company. He continues to work with the Upstate Veterans Business Network to help connect veterans with valuable employment and to educate them on available opportunities. He says, “The Upstate Veteran Business Network is time well spent and helps highly purpose driven veterans feel like their service to our great nation is valued by the citizens they put their lives on the line to protect.”

Ex-Offender that was given a second chance

Keith spent 17 years in prison, and once he was released he struggled to find meaningful employment. He was repeatedly turned away from the jobs for which he applied, losing hope and becoming depressed. While completing an application with an employer, it asked him to state his experience and he wrote, “I just need someone to give me a chance.”

During one September day, Keith walked into an SC Works Center in the Lowcountry, not knowing what to expect. He began working with Michelle Adams, a workforce consultant. It was a struggle to find Keith a job, at first. Michelle had followed up with the employer that Keith had initially filled out an application with, and the employer responded, “We don’t want people like that working here.”

After several failed attempts, Michelle then called a business in Bluffton, and when she told the employer about Keith and his story, the general manager of the company told her to send him over.

They offered Keith a job because of the value they saw he would bring to the company.  Recently the employer sent an update to Michelle and said Keith is a hard worker and is doing fantastic in his new position.

After speaking with Keith, Michelle said that he is extremely happy.

There is no I in Team

Robert Ray - David BaileyRobert Ray had to move to South Carolina from Massachusetts in 2014 due to family issues. He had an extensive background in management, but he had a difficult time finding a job in his career field.

He eventually learned about his local SC Works center in Georgetown and the resources available to him. He went to the center to explore local employment opportunities, but after speaking to a workforce consultant and sharing his background in management, he learned about an available part-time position at the center as a greeter. With his vast amount of skills he was able to secure the job and he saw it as a rewarding experience because at the end of every interaction he knew he made a difference in someone’s life that day. After some time he used his skillsets, old and new, for the next step in his life.

Robert was excelling at his part-time position as a reliable and productive worker, and his dedication to the position did not go unnoticed. His management team at the SC Works office encouraged him to apply for a full-time position at the Conway SC Works center as the Re-Employment Services and Eligibility Assessments (RESEA) Program Assistant. After his initial interview, he was able to obtain the position, and started shortly thereafter. As the RESEA program assistant he works one-on-one with individuals to create a re-employment plan.

Robert now is in a position that he loves, and says, “I am profoundly appreciative for the DEW work environment and the willingness of my colleagues to assist me in any way possible.  They exemplify the adage that there ‘is no I in team’.”

Getting back on her own two feet

When Sydney Griffith graduated with a four-year degree from a private women’s college she hit the job market with applications and interviews, ready for her high-paying $100,000/year job she assumed she could get. It was a shock to find that reality was a bit different. Sydney reset her mindset and started a career in banking as a secretary. This job gave her endless opportunities for training to increase her skillsets, which made her the ideal candidate for promotions and ultimately worked her way up to Assistant Vice President. Life was good. She had a great salary, was married to a Senior Tax Accountant, had a country club membership and owned horses, a childhood dream

Her life took her through different job opportunities and locations until she ended up in Myrtle Beach, S.C. where she and her husband could live at the beach with their horses. Sydney thought it was the ideal life; however, right before starting her new job, Sydney’s neighbor came running over to tell her that her husband had been in a car accident. While he was alright, their only means of transportation had been wrecked and determined by the insurance company to be a total loss. When the check came in, her husband took the money and left her without a job, transportation and now a husband, she had been left with only her horses. While her previous experience had taught her the importance of savings she was chipping away at it while she struggled with seasonal employment, which is the norm for the area. She didn’t think things could get much worse until her horses were stolen, and she used the rest of her saving trying to find them, but never did.

It was just one struggle too many. Now without a job, Sydney became homeless and found herself as a chronic alcoholic and living in the woods. She kept telling herself that her situation was temporary, but a month eventually turned into four.

When she heard about New Directions, a work/stay program, and the resources that they had to offer, she decided to take the plunge and go to the homeless shelter. It turned out to be welcoming, giving her something she hadn’t had in a long time – hope.

It was a new beginning that Sydney was ready to embrace, and as part of the agreement to stay at the shelter, she had to look for work. She was willing and ready, but the odds were against her: homeless, female, older and with some employment barriers.

New Directions referred Sydney to SC Works to help with her job search. She got help with her resume, was taught how to use the SC Works Online System and, most importantly, they were always there to listen and offer career advice on a potential employment situation.

While job hunting she received a call from the New Directions Assistant Director, asking that she move from the women’s facility to their family shelter where they also wanted her to help out. At the time, she didn’t know it, but she was being tested. Shortly after she began helping at New Directions Family Shelter, the Assistant Director asked her to interview, and she was so excited she didn’t even ask what she was interviewing for. She walked into the interview in Feb. 2016 homeless and jobless, and walked out employed with housing!

Sydney was hired as the night shelter manager for New Directions Family Shelter. Now, she in turn, she is able to offer the same hope and encouragement to the homeless Family Shelter clients that was offered to her.

Going the extra smile

ats1Ashton Taylor Sullivan had limited employability skills and was only able to find work waitressing part-time, barely making ends meet. She enrolled as a participant with the ResCare Workforce Services WIOA Out of School Youth Program once she graduated high school.

Through the help of her talent engagement specialist and talent development facilitator with the program, Ashton decided that she wanted to become a Dental Assistant and eventually work in an orthodontics office.

To improve her employability skills, Ashton attended work-readiness sessions to better prepare herself for the workforce. To gain the critical skills she needed, she enrolled and began classes at the Palmetto School of Career Development, a school that provides entry-level career courses to become certified in specific career paths. Through her training, she became certified in chairside dental assisting, OSHA and radiation safety.

Only a month after she became certified, she began working with Victory Dental Center and began developing the entry-level experience that she needed to advance her career. However,she wanted to be closer to home. Having the education and work skills she needed, Ashton was able to find employment that suited her situation when she got a job with Kids First Dental. This position is not only closer to her home, it allows her to work full-time while completing her degree at York Technical College.

It’s all about the skills that you have

hmHaden loves working with computers and has a natural IT ability. In fact, one of his favorite past times is to take them apart and put them back together, learning the intricacies of the machine, how it works and how to fix it.

Haden came to the WIOA Youth program in September 2016, with a high school diploma and having maxed out his Test of Adult Basic Education test with Adult Education which measures a student’s skills and aptitudes in reading, math and English. While he is extremely intelligent, Haden is also autistic and struggles with basic social interactions. He was looking for work because he assumed employment was the next step after education. And he is correct.

Because of his affinity for and expertise in IT, Haden was interested in finding work in that industry. In November 2016, the WIOA Youth program connected him with Net Solutions Technology Center, an IT company that services computers for industries such as doctor’s offices, law offices and manufacturing businesses, including installation, monitoring, support and upgrades. They also offer computer training and repair. Net Solutions interviewed Haden for a help desk attendant. Although nervous and apprehensive about the interview, Haden did well and was hired.

Helping him bridge the gap between his computer knowledge and the job requirement of social interaction, the staff at Net Solutions not only worked with him on basic computer troubleshooting, repairs and programming, they have helped guide him through questions and answers for some of the most common interactions with customers.

Haden has shown great potential and has developed additional social skills that help him work with the staff and flourish in the work environment. He has also been given additional tasks related to beta testing, an area where staff believe he may do well.

By looking at his knowledge base, potential for growth and skillset, Net Solutions was able to fill a position with a quality employee that, under their instruction, continues to improve, progress and add value to the business.

Getting a second chance

jmWhen Jason Mongillo was first released from jail, he didn’t know where to begin. He got assistance from the SC Works center in Florence and learned about the Federal Bonding program. This program offers employers the confidence to give second chances to ex-offenders by providing a bond as an insurance policy. In turn it helps eliminate a significant barrier to employment for individuals who may possess very employable job skills. Jason was so excited about this opportunity that he immediately began his own work search; however, without completing the program, he didn’t have all of the pieces he needed to successfully search for work on his own.

After several attempts, Jason came back to the center for employment assistance and ready to complete the Federal Bonding program to the end.

With the help of his workforce consultant, he was provided all of the necessary tools and preparation for employment. This included having his resume reviewed and talking through his letter of explanation that offered potential employers a brief look into his past and his efforts to change his future. This letter is meant to give employers a sense of ease and confidence in their hiring decisions. Prior to going to any interviews he was also equipped with several Federal Bonding vouchers as a hiring incentive for suitable employers.

When he began the work search process he made his vouchers available and through his perseverance and willingness to be upfront about his past, he was hired almost immediately at CiCi’s Pizza as a manager in training.

Through the Federal Bonding Program Jason was given the confidence he needed to obtain employment and the ability to get back on his own two feet after going through some adversity.

A new career change

IMG_20160811_144435Constance Sharp had been out of a job for some time and she felt that her age was deterring her success.

Constance found out about the AARP 50+ program that is offered at many SC Works centers. BACK TO WORK 50+ connects struggling Americans 50+ with the information, support, training and employer access they need to regain employment, advance in the workforce, and build financial capability and resiliency to prevent them from slipping into poverty later in life.

She wanted a new skill set so that she could make a career change from her previous work experience.

After applying for one of AARP’s scholarships, Constance received financial assistance to attend Tri-County Technical College to further her education. The program offered many wonderful opportunities, but she chose to pursue the Patient Access Specialist program which would create multiple entry level opportunities available in a hospital patient-access department, assisting with registrations, insurance verification, scheduling, financial counseling and more. With the help of her Career Coach at the SC Works center and the AARP program she started preparing for interviews and was taught new skills that she would need for this career change, like bolstering her computer skills.

Through her classes, counseling, job fairs and goal planning, Constance started becoming more prepared and more confident in her ability to start a new career.

After the completion of her classes, she attended a job fair at the Anderson Mall and was offered a job with Anderson Disability and Special Needs. Not only has she continued her education at Tri-County Technical College to keep her skills current, she also took her State Certification in late October, and she has set a course for a whole new career, despite the “challenge” of her age