By Abby Bova
Mario McMichael started the employment program at the West Side Catholic Center roughly a year and a half ago and it has quickly blossomed into a well-oiled machine. Mario, with the help of Karen in employment outreach, has created a three step program to help anyone in need find work. The most common clients at the employment clinic are those staying in at WSCC or members of the WSCC housing program. However, walk-ins are encouraged to come by and sign up for the course.
The first step is employment clinic. Through the course of a month they host a variety of classes from deciding what types of jobs suit your needs and talents, to how to strive in the work place. The classes provided this past session included mock interviews, work pace etiquette and professional dress, communication styles and persuasion, self-awareness and conflict resolution, budgeting and resource management, and network branding. Proper office etiquette is one of the most important lessons taught at employment clinic because they have found it is not so hard to find a job, however keeping that job can be challenging because of outbursts and other rash reactions due to difficult pasts.
These classes may very between sessions, however are always helpful in not only landing a job, but more importantly keeping that job. The last two weeks of the program are called “Job Club”. During these last two weeks the group meets twice a week to talk about their trials in finding work. “Job Club” goes above and beyond employment help. As members of the group bring up daily life issues that prevent successfully acquiring a job, other members of the group who had been, or are in similar situations, essentially work as resource agents informing each other about different opportunities and programs to help the situation. In a female dominated room the biggest barrier to those looking for work is childcare, and the recent changes to many families’ food stamps. Fortunately, WSCC provides daycare for the two hour classes, so childcare will not prevent anyone, man or women, from attending the meetings.
The second step is mentorships. The employment program provides mentorship opportunities mainly with volunteers from WSCC whom are masters in their fields. Because WSCC functions primarily on a staff of volunteers, the employment program has been gifted with a large pool of mentors ranging from carpenters to nurses and almost everything in between. Mentorships are a one year commitment aimed at developing a path to reach the individuals career goals. The mentors are expected to counsel, guide, give honest feedback, motivate, and serve as a role model for their mentee. Because these mentors have experience working in their designated field, they are able to provide “insider advice” about the ins and outs of their trade, which they have learned from their years of experience.
The third step is community partnerships. The WSCC employment program partners with employers who understand the connection between their client’s personal happiness and professional effectiveness, and are willing to make a true investment in the client. The staff is constantly in contact with different employers, learning about new open positons and their requirements so that no employer, or member of the program, wastes time with an unfitting position. All of these possible job opportunities go into a binder which is available to any member of the employment program. When a fitting job opportunity comes up Jenifer, Mario, and any other volunteers help the individual to send their resume and prepare for the interview. While the program does not currently have the resources for technology training, the members learn a great deal about computers through the job application process. The job opportunities from this program range from temp jobs, for those with very little to no previous job experience, to jobs that require master degrees. With a passionate staff and valuable resources the WSCC Employment Program will undoubtable flourish in the coming years.
Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved