Chandy Tracy used the resources of the free Employment Readiness Program offered by Kishwaukee College at the Illinois workNet Center, 1701 E. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, to turn her life around. Through their classes and networking opportunities, Chandy found a job and will be enrolling in the Early Childhood Education Program at Kishwaukee College in Spring 2012 through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Pictured, L to R, are Jenine Povlsen, Instructional Assistant for the Employment Readiness Program; Chandy Tracy; and Michelle Allen, Coordinator of the Employment Readiness Program.Chandy Tracy: Ready for the working week
Chandy Tracy used the resources of the free Employment Readiness Program offered by Kishwaukee College at the Illinois workNet Center, 1701 E. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, to turn her life around. Through their classes and networking opportunities, Chandy found a job and will be enrolling in the Early Childhood Education Program at Kishwaukee College in Spring 2012 through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Pictured, L to R, are Jenine Povlsen, Instructional Assistant for the Employment Readiness Program; Chandy Tracy; and Michelle Allen, Coordinator of the Employment Readiness Program.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
For Chandy Tracy, the past year has been the best of times and the worst of times, with the best happening now…and getting better everyday. The complete turn in her life came about courtesy of the free Employment Readiness Program offered by Kishwaukee College at the Illinois workNet Center in DeKalb. “The Employment Readiness Program came at a time when I needed it the most,” she said. “It’s been a blessing in my life.”
In the Spring of 2011, after a series of uncontrollable personal circumstances, Chandy said, “I moved in with my parents and filed for unemployment, but was denied because my last position was working on a military base which is under a personal contract,” she explained. “I had no job, no unemployment benefits, no prospects. I had to start completely over with nothing.”
Chandy looked for and applied for several jobs but to no avail. She said, “You start to feel isolated and alone. Everyone else has jobs and families. I didn’t even have a car so I couldn’t go anywhere. I felt like no one understood me. My parents were supportive but wondered why I couldn’t find a job. I tried everything - newspaper ads, job postings, friends and family. It didn’t work. I went from having everything to having nothing. It was emotionally and financially devastating.”
A friend suggested she go back to school and stop focusing on the past. “It was good advice, but I had no money,” she said. She knew she had always enjoyed children and thought a career in childcare may be a possibility. Early Childhood Education was a program that was funded through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), but Chandy missed the deadline to apply for Fall 2011 admission. But missing that deadline was a blessing in disguise because it brought her to the Employment Readiness Program. “As soon as I started the classes, I found the support I had needed and felt better about myself,” she said.
Michelle Allen, Coordinator of the Employment Readiness Program at Kishwaukee College, explained the mission, “We offer the ‘soft skills’ that people need to be better prepared to enter the workforce. We work hand-in-hand with Sharon Dillon at First Institute Training and Management and the WIA Training Program at Illinois workNet. Though we’re a Kishwaukee College Program, our offices are located at Illinois workNet in DeKalb so we can assist more people as efficiently as possible. First Institute and other WIA programs offer the training and education to prepare people for a particular career field. We prepare them to be successful in their job search and in the workplace.”
Jenine Povlsen, Instructional Assistant for the Employment Readiness Program, teaches three classes to the program’s clients: Computers for Job Seekers, Job Seeker Skills and Success in the Workplace. “In these classes we cover resume building, cover letters, interviewing skills, but also the so called “soft skills” like teamwork, time management, and conflict resolution, among others.” Clients may also choose to take any of several computer skills classes offered at Illinois workNet in DeKalb to further strengthen their job skills, including keyboarding, Microsoft Word and Excel and Basic Computer Literacy. The object is not just to assist clients with finding a job, but finding the right job and developing the skills to be successful in their chosen career.
The clients who come together in the Employment Readiness Program are strangers at the beginning but quickly become a tightly knit group. After all, they share a common issue: unemployment. As the group grows closer, they each bring information to the others - newspaper clippings about jobs, tidbits they heard or overheard about possible openings or people to talk to. Allen noted that it happens with each group to the extent that she is incorporating job information into a formal networking group and bringing in local Human Resource Directors to talk to the clients about the importance of job skills, give them a perspective from a hiring official and inform them of positions they may have open. “They were helping each other out with this information so I wanted to just formalize the process and make it part of the program,” she explained.
Chandy found a great support network and a team of professionals to help her get her resume and job seeking skills up to par. “I met with Tom Conley and showed him my resume,” she said. “It was seven pages long, which was what the job counselor on a military base had suggested. Tom helped me cut it down to one page.” Sharing with the group that she was interested in childcare, another client suggested she contact a daycare center in town because they might be hiring. She did and landed a part-time position.
Today, Chandy Tracy is a very different young woman from who she had been last spring. She loves her job working in childcare and she will be attending Kishwaukee College in the Early Childhood Education program in Spring 2012, using WIA funding. She stated simply, “I was so broken. Doors kept closing. But then I came to the Employment Readiness Program and kept coming. I found friends and support and a job. I never gave up hope and persevered, and now I am at a place where I am very happy in my life!”
For more information on the Employment Readiness Program offered through Kishwaukee College, contact Michelle Allen at 815-756-4893, ext. 254 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.