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

Hannah Adams beats all the odds

Hannah and StakeholdersWhen Hannah Adams’ watched her daughter, Khloe, blow out her birthday candles on her first birthday, she suddenly realized how quickly time was passing. Hannah knew that if she didn’t get serious about her goals, her daughter might have a difficult childhood like she did. It was time to make changes to give Khloe a chance at a better life, so she turned to Eckerd’s Palmetto Youth Connections program for help.

Growing up wasn’t easy for Hannah. Her mother was a drug addict so she stopped going to school in the 7th grade to stay home and help care for her two younger siblings. At 14 Hannah got pregnant and, what’s worse, lived in a prostitution house. Police raided the home, and Hannah was taken into DSS custody. She ended up at New Horizons, a home for pregnant and parenting teenage girls, in Summerton, South Carolina.

It was through New Horizons that Hannah first heard about Eckerd’s Palmetto Youth Connections Program (PYC) Designed to educate, train and support youth as they prepare to enter the workforce, PYC emphasizes hands-on development in academic and job-training services. When Hannah enrolled in the program in April 2015, her initial assessments showed an 8th grade reading level and 5th grade math level. She knew that getting her GED would be a long journey. But once she got started, her natural intelligence began to shine. After just one month she told her teachers she felt she was ready for the GED. When she got the results, Hannah cried; she had passed the test and earned her GED!

The next step on Hannah’s journey was to earn an occupational skills credential in the hope she would earn a job to support herself and her child. Through her older brother, who she considers a best friend and a mentor, Hannah was exposed to the welding trade. She was interested in learning welding, but the only school that offered the training was an hour from New Horizons. Because she didn’t have a car and the residential facility had limited options to assist with transportation, Eckerd PYC stepped in to help for 13 weeks, arranging transportation for the hour commute to welding school.

As the only female in the class, she had to set boundaries early on and establish that she wasn’t interested in distractions with her classmates. Through her dedication and hard work she learned the welding skills she needed to earn her certificate.

With her new skillset Hannah had the opportunity to continue to work with PYC to gain hands-on training through their work-based learning program. Caterpillar agreed to allow Hannah to complete her welding training at their company, but transportation continued to be a barrier. PYC was determined to help her keep her momentum of success so they contributed the last of their support services limit for a Hannah’s case to make sure she had transportation to and from Caterpillar

Despite the budget limitations, PYC found another opportunity. On her behalf, PYC applied for the Success Award through the Eckerd Foundation. The application was a breeze considering all that Hannah had accomplished for herself and Khole in just two years. The hope was for her to receive the financial award to buy her very own car.

With glowing recommendations, Hannah was selected, and PYC immediately started working with a local car dealership to surprise her. She was so excited, and now, with the car, Hannah has the necessary resources to continue her training and to make sure that hers and Khloe’s future is bright.

Receiving Service for a Life of Service

Sarah Weaver photoSenior Master Sergeant Sarah Weaver served 30 years in the United States Air Force and earned her Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership. In May 2014, after retiring from the Air Force, Sarah and her husband moved to Seneca, S.C.

Sarah obtained a part-time position with the United States Postal Service, but wanted to concentrate on her area of expertise, administration. Looking for veteran’s assistance, Sarah sought out her nearest SC Works center help her achieve her goal. SMSgt Weaver was referred to Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) representative Susan Stockton, who quickly helped her in her search for employment. SMSgt Weaver joined the Senece SC Works team itself as a Resource Specialist through VA Vocational Rehabilitation Department Chapter 31 for two months while securing a full-time position at Clemson University as a Coordinator of Administrative Support Services in Counseling and Physiological Services.

SMSgt Weaver stated, “SCWorks greatly contributed to my success in obtaining employment with Clemson University.  It is one thing making it through the application tracking system, but the hardest part is preparing for the interview and following-up after the interview. Silissa (Si) Bischof, the Career Development Specialist at SCWorks, played a significant role in helping me land the job. She helped me research not only the University but the department in which I would be working.  She also gave me invaluable advice in writing my thank-you notes and follow-up e-mails. Si has coached me throughout the entire process, and I will always be deeply grateful for her astute guidance and kindness. It is because of Si and SCWorks that I was able to succeed in obtaining employment. Susan Stockton, my Vet Rep, was also extremely helpful. I often sought her out for her expert knowledge and counsel which were always very helpful to me throughout my time at SCWorks. Susan truly cares about veterans and it shows in everything she does. I will forever be thankful she was my Vet Rep.”

Russell Anderson finds employment opportunities

Russell Anderson was bullied throughout high school because of a physical disability, but he never allowed that to impact his confidence and desire to be a successful member of the workforce and community.

In an effort to find a job, he began working with the S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Department. From there, his workforce consultant referred him to the North Charleston Education 2 Employment (E2E) grant. E2E provides access to high-quality job training and employment services for youth and adults in North Charleston. The program prepares participants for careers through short-term occupational skill-training and paid work experience in high-growth industries.

Because Russell loved to work with computers, he was offered an opportunity to begin CompTIA training, which ensures common understanding of hardware and software programs necessary to support complex IT infrastructures. He received an A+ certification in this training, offered at Productivity Solutions and Training and is now working on receiving his Network+ certification.

In addition to computers, Russell is also interested in a broadcasting career. E2E staff started working with a career coach at Palmetto Youth Connections who used to be a radio broadcaster to develop potential work experience. Russell hopes to utilize the computer skills he’s gained through his certifications and programs, and his love of music to create a dynamic career for himself.

To give back to a program that has been successful at helping him into the workforce, Russell has since become an E2E ambassador and recently participated in the S.C. Behavioral Health Conference.

SC Works Hartsville helps Army veteran start new career

Dehaven Williams successfully completed two tours of duty in Ft. Stewart, GA and then Korea before returning home to Hartsville, GA to seek employment.

Because Mr. Williams left the military with a service-related disability that prohibits him from performing certain tasks that require prolonged standing, he was concerned about his options in the job market.

He reached out to the veterans staff in the SC Works Hartsville center. Through veteran services and case management he was offered a position with AO Smith in McBee, a leading manufacturer of residential and commercial water heaters. Unfortunately, it turned out this position required long periods of standing which had the potential of making Mr. Williams disability worse.

Determined to find successful civilian employment, Mr. Williams talked further with a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program (DVOP) at the Hartsville work center. The DVOP referred him to a local hiring fair sponsored by Palmetto Goodwill and was coordinated by Local Veteran’s Employment Representative (LVER), Keisha Bolden.

Goodwill employers were impressed by his resume, character and flawless interview. Only one week later he received an offer of employment as a sales associate.

Mr. Williams says that he is excited about his new position and has set his goals toward a future management position.

Masako

Masako

Masako entered the extended program housing at Transitions Homeless Center in March of 2016. As a shelter actively engaged in moving individuals into stable and permanent housing, Transitions partners with many community organizations to provide the expertise and services that their clients need in order to enter and sustain an independent lifestyle.masako

As one of those partners, the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce works with Transitions to offer the Back to Work program; an intensive six-week employment boot camp. By providing the necessary guidance and soft skills to maintain gainful employment and self-sufficiency, the program helps individuals establish life-long independence. The combination of transitioning participants to housing as well as employment creates a comprehensive approach for long-term success.

While Masako’s journey from homelessness has certainly been a long arduous road, her journey from Transitions to employment has not. Since entering Transitions in March, she has completed the Back to Work Program, attended the Career Education & Employment Training Program offered by the Midlands Community Development Corporation, and landed a job.

Hard work and determination paid off for Masako.  She was hired as a housekeeper with Wingate Hotel Industries in Columbia in July.

Since her arrival at Transitions, everyone was taken with her kindness and friendliness, but the day she was hired was new inspiration. Masako was so grateful and excited to be employed and to have a business invest in her success that everyone was touched by her show of appreciation.

Getting a job has been a life changing event for Masako. She is enjoying working for the hotel and is now setting her sights on her next goal – finding her own place to live.

With assistance from her case managers and community partners, Masako knows that she can turn employment into independence.

Quinterrio Butler

At 21 years old, Quinterrio Butler knew the importance of taking initiative and exhibiting a positive attitude. Unfortunately, he had a few bumps along the road before he got there. After spending some time in a correctional facility near Spartanburg, Quinterrio was released and made his way to Myrtle Beach on a Friday in April, 2015. The following Monday, he was in the SC Works office looking for any kind of assistance he could receive to put him back on the path to employment. Up until this point, he had never had a job outside of an institutional setting.

 Quinterrio sat down with Mackenzie Ricard, a career development specialist in Waccamaw, who provided information on the Federal Bonding Program as well as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Mackenzie worked with him to create a resume that would highlight his skills that he learned while working within the prison institution, as well as help him strive toward his future endeavors. The two sat for a long time afterwards, discussing the importance of a good attitude and honesty and how both could lead to positive outcomes.

 Quinterrio was encouraged to write a letter of explanation that clarified aspects of his past as well as his productivity since his arrest. He had no problem proving his drive. While incarcerated, Quinterrio attended multiple classes and was able to obtain his GED. He crafted a letter of explanation using templates provided to him and was able to send it off within the next two days. In such a short stretch of time, Quinterrio had equipped himself not only with a resume and letter of explanation, but a new intent on how he was going to achieve his goals.

 Just 10 days after his release, Quinterrio was offered a full-time job with Emergency Landscaping and Irrigation. He was thrilled with his first civilian job, even though he was aware of the seasonal aspect of landscaping.  Instead of allowing himself to become complacent during the off-season, he actively pursued positions that would keep him busy when his first job slowed down. Quinterrio used the skills and documents he crafted when he was first released to gain a full-time job with Subway, all on his own.

 Quinterrio didn’t stop there. Not only has he been working steadily since April, he is also volunteering at his church through a Men’s Ministry. He hopes to use his own experiences to deter children from heading down the path he once chose.

Eric Consuegra

Eric Consuegra had successfully used the resources at the SC Works Sumter location to help him find work on several occasions. However, Eric decided he wanted to start looking for a job that he could consider a career. The idea of having a career path that gave him direction, achievable goals and the focus of constantly improving a skill that could translate into better and better jobs in a particular field appealed to him.

This past March, he went back to the SC Works office to talk with a workforce consultant about how to find the right career for his personality and skill set. With their help, Eric crafted a new resume and submitted it to three different employers. Each of the companies had progressive jobs in a career track that would teach him skills that could be built upon to move up the ladder of the company. Time Warner Cable, Continental Tire and the S.C. Department of Corrections all offered him a position; more than that they offered him a career.

After much consideration, Eric decided to join the Time Warner Cable team. Within two weeks he was not only trained, but was promoted from tier 1 to tier 3.

Since being hired, Time Warner Cable has given him a company vehicle, and he is now training to be a part of the quality control division.

Eric is a great example of the benefit of having a long-term vision of employment, and a testament to the fact that the staff in the works centers can not only help people find a job, they can counsel individuals to help them secure long-term success within a career track.