#PowerOfAJob: AmeriCorps experience pays off downstream with a dream job

It’s Workforce Wednesday, when we spotlight Power of a Job success stories.

This week, we bring you former Washington Service Corps member Emily Watts, who joined the program after college. The Service Corps is part of the federal AmeriCorps community service program and is administered by the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Annually, the Washington Service Corps accepts more than 700 members, who fill unmet community needs in the areas of disaster preparedness; economic opportunity; education; environmental stewardship; healthy futures; and veterans and military families.

Emily’s experience as a member exposed her to new roles and ideas that led her to a job she loves. The Washington Service Corps helps communities and simultaneously creates a service-to-work pipeline around the state.

Here is Emily’s story:

I’m a water resources specialist with the City of Lacey in the public works department. I’ve been here almost two years now.

Going back a little bit, after graduating high school, I knew that I wanted to get a degree, but was not sure exactly in what. I decided to go to school locally at the Evergreen State College. It was not until my junior or senior year that I got into ecological economics. That’s when I knew I wanted to study this cross connection between natural resources, local policy and business.

However, I didn’t know how to get a job in that field or what kind of work went into that. I started looking for internships and part-time jobs and stumbled across AmeriCorps, which had many opportunities in the South Sound near my family. I ended up with a job with the City of Tacoma.

As an AmeriCorps member, I served as their active transportation and sustainability specialist and got to work with many large departments, such as Tacoma Power and Water. My job was to do outreach throughout the diverse communities in Tacoma, which garnered my interest in outreach. I knew I liked economics. I loved natural resources. Now I learned that I love communications and outreach, too. By putting these things together and reserving a table at the Tacoma farmer’s markets, I helped plan the Sustainability Expo and gained another skill — civil service —that I had not been interested in before. I just knew that I liked working for local city government.

After 10 months, I still wanted to work for city government in the Tacoma area. I found the Metropolitan Parks District of Tacoma. It’s like the city of Tacoma’s Parks and Recreation Department, but its own individual entity. Because I had city government experience with Tacoma, Metro Parks was very interested in me for their sustainability assistant position. It was part-time, but I applied anyway. Because I knew about Tacoma water, Tacoma power and outreach, they hired me.

My new job was similar to my role as an AmeriCorps member. I worked at the zoo doing outreach, tracking energy, water services and utilities. These activities crossed into public service, about which I was passionate. After about eight months at Metro parks, I started searching for a full-time position and found an opening with the City of Lacey as a full-time water resources specialist.

My AmeriCorps role provided experience with a utility and I gained more with Metro Parks. The Lacey job was all about communications and outreach, and I had answered so many public questions, that it was a great fit. The City of Lacey is a small tight-knit community, so I would get more hands-on experience doing volunteer activities. I got the position and have been with them now for about two years. All of this is building upon my previous experience as an AmeriCorps member.

I work with the water utility and wastewater now, answering public questions, doing rebates and holding public events. All my previous experience led to this position.

I would say to anyone who is looking for job experience, or not really sure what they want to do, look for service positions and apply for AmeriCorps. I got direct job experience right out of school with no experience, and it led to a full-time job.

To learn more about the Washington Service Corps and AmeriCorps, visit the Service Corps website.

The Employment Security Department is a partner in Washington’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, which helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job. We also work with businesses, which are Powered by Jobs, to help them find employees.

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#Powerofajob: Agency staff give voice to their customers’ pain and joy

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By Employment Security Department
Commissioner Suzi LeVine

True job-search success stories about real Washingtonians are as numerous as the leaves on a 100-year-old tree in summer. To be exact, the number of WorkSource customers who found jobs in 12 months from late 2016 to early 2017 (our most recent data) is 139,212.

But those thousands of stories don’t just drift lazily down and into the lap of this blog. We rely on our employees to share their customers’ successes, and then we relay those Power of a Job stories to you: our readers.

To keep those stories coming every week, sometimes we need to go shake the trees and remind our staff to send more. So last fall, I decided to provide a little incentive. I asked my staff for submissions and we randomly selected five stories to feature as the winners! Today, I’m pleased to announce those winning stories. Three of them already have been published here:

The other two winning stories haven’t been published yet, but I’ll give you a preview.

A second employee from WorkSource Spokane tells the story of a homeless man struggling with alcoholism and a felony history. He took some pre-employment classes at WorkSource, worked with community partners to find housing and help for his addiction, then came back to WorkSource for help finding a job. He did, and returned to WorkSource Spokane later just to tell everyone how well he’s doing!

The final story comes from an employee of WorkSource Colville, who worked with a woman who had served time in a California prison for cutting off the fingers of a man who had sexually abused one of her relatives. This woman served her time and was a model prisoner. After release, she struggled for years to reintegrate into society. She finally found not only support and compassion at WorkSource Colville, but also quality job referrals. As of today, she’s working and already has received a promotion!

I’m so proud to lead the Employment Security Department, where stand-out employees transform people’s lives every day through the power of a job and the safety net of unemployment benefits.

Thanks to them, you get to hear these stories. All you need to do is follow this blog or find us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn: #powerofajob!

As a partner in Washington’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job. We also work with businesses, which are Powered by Jobs, to help them find employees.

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Washington extends unemployment safety net to federal workers working full- or part-time without pay

Governor Jay Inslee and Commissioner Suzi LeVine today announced an emergency rule allowing federal workers working without pay to receive unemployment benefits.

Workers can learn how to apply here: https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment-benefits-related-to-partial-federal-shutdown#NEW

The Employment Security Department has posted data about the estimated number of workers impacted by county, including estimates of lost wages by week.

The agency also has data from the National Association of State Workforce Agencies showing the estimated number of employees by affected federal agency in Washington.

Watch the media availability.img_e4103[1]

#PowerofaJob: WorkSource helps jobseeker “perfect” her resume and interview skills

It’s Workforce Wednesday, when we spotlight Power of a Job success stories.

This week, we bring you Tricia Kimball, who learned that WorkSource is all about re-employment when she lost her long-term job, and WorkSource Kitsap actively helped her with updated interview skills and re-training assistance.

My name is Tricia Kimball and I lost my job after 10 years. Not knowing what to do, I went to the “unemployment office” to apply for unemployment benefits. When I got there I realized that there was no longer an unemployment office – everything was online. So I applied for unemployment and I started looking into the classes that WorkSource offered to help me get re-employed.

When I went to the first class learning how to fill out an application, I was the only one there. It was right before Christmas and it ended up to be a chitchat session. The lady said to me “would you ever think about going back to school?” I said “well, don’t even say that unless you’re serious, because I would love to go back to school and finish what I started 10 years ago.” I had gone to school but had to quit, because I had to go to work.

She sent me to see Christopher Nelson at Olympic College and he was doing a seminar on something that had nothing to do with me, but I sat through two of his sessions and then he took me to his office and we talked. He enrolled me into the worker-retraining program. When I left his office, I was enrolled in school, books and tuition paid for and I started on Monday.

I continued through school and he then referred me to Russ at WorkSource. I worked with Russ and he suggested that I go see Lenny. I worked with Lenny all through school – he helped me pay for books he helped me pay for tuition. When I graduated, I looked into the other classes that WorkSource offers. I went to another interview class, I went to the USAJOBS, I did some mock interviews, I took the interview class and all these things have helped me polish myself for looking for a job.

I wasn’t really sure how to do my resume anymore, because they don’t do them like they did when I first went to school, so I was connected with Lawanda and she sat with me and we went through my resume. She helped me change it and tweak it to what it should be. When I went home, I fixed it the way she explained, and then, through email and phone calls, we were able to get my resume perfect. Then when it came time to do the USAJOBS, I got help there from Rudy, he helped me with that one and he also put a few applications in for me through his office.

So, without WorkSource, I would not be here today. I was honored to be invited in the first place and then to see all these employers support people who have disabilities. I don’t consider myself to be disabled as most people think I am, but they only see that – they don’t see what’s inside. So if you need help looking for a job you need to go to WorkSource.

As a partner in Washington’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job. We also work with businesses, which are Powered by Jobs, to help them find employees.

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#Powerofajob: Job seeker finds classes, confidence at WorkSource

It’s Workforce Wednesday, when we spotlight Power of a Job success stories.

This week, we bring you Delia Armendariz, who moved to Kitsap County and was surprised to find so much help and so many services at WorkSource.

Here is her story:

I recently moved to the area [Kitsap County] and heard WorkSource was a good place to have your resume reviewed. I was surprised to learn they offer great courses, too. I took the five core courses and even repeated a few, because they’re taught by different instructors and I learn something new every single time I go.

At WorkSource, instead of someone just reviewing my resume, they taught us how to build a professional one. Life changed since I first started looking for a job years ago, so it is helpful to have the latest and the greatest information. It’s amazing that all these resources are at my disposal.

I attended the classes, studied and took time to build a professional looking resume. Several WorkSource staff reviewed it and provided tidbits of information to make it better and attractive to potential employers.

This has been an incredible journey, and I feel more confident now looking for a job than I did six months ago. Taking courses, working with DVR (Department of Vocational Rehabilitation) and meeting with WorkSource staff prepared me for today’s job fair. I’ve attended other job fairs where there was no background on employers or expectations. For this job fair, WorkSource has provided lots of information and I feel very confident from the start.

Today, I visited with employers face to face, one on one, and provided my resume. Hopefully, I’ll hear something from them. This reverse job fair* is great because employers are looking for my specific skills and abilities. Most job fairs are one big fish bowl of information that is hard navigate. This is such a wonderful opportunity.

*Editor’s note: A reverse job fair is when job seekers greet and talk with roaming employers, rather than the other way around. Sometimes, job seekers actually have a booth with displays of information about their skills, achievements and certifications.

As a partner in Washington’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job.  We also work with businesses, which are Powered by Jobs, to help them find employees.

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