Authored by JD Shinn, who served as the Salem Chamber’s Business Liaison and worked directly with young adults and local employers to lead a divested portion of our workforce toward gainful employment.
What do you do when you can no longer follow your original career path? One program that the Chamber has been a partner in piloting, the Career Achievement Network (aka ‘theNET’), helps youth gain the experience they need to move into long term employment. We’ll share one particular experience.
“I was faced with a problem in the winter of 2015. Due to illness, I was unable to pursue my dream career. Heartbroken and in need of work, theNET gave me the experience I needed in order to find a way to support my family and find a new dream career.
From a young age, I wanted to be a nail technician. I would search through magazines and pay attention to what nail polish models were wearing. When I would go outside I would always take notice of different styles people chose. I loved to think up different nail combinations and designs. After high school I went to school to learn how to be a nail technician. I received my license and began to work at a local resort. I loved continuing my education to learn about new styles and accrued many certifications. However, after years of being plagued with Carpal Tunnel syndrome, the doctor suggested that I find a different career path. I was moved to light duty with my organization and really enjoyed my time at the front desk. Although I was one of the highest qualified employees in the nail salon, I had very little experience as a receptionist and was eventually let go. With three children to support, my husband and I needed my income to survive, but I wasn’t sure where to go. I couldn’t do my dream job, and although I liked working at a front desk had very little experience and couldn’t get hired.
While looking for work, a friend told me about a program called theNET. Through theNET I received work readiness classes that helped prepare me for my new future. I was placed in an internship as a receptionist with an employer that welcomed me into the family. After my 200 hours of interning they asked me to stay a part of their family with a permanent position.
I am so grateful to theNET for preparing me for my internship with my current employer. They gave me the tools and opportunity I needed to make a difference in my life and the lives of my family as well as my community.”
As heart-warming as this story may be, many youth share the struggle of gaining the right skills to attain long term employment. They recognize that they don’t have all the experience they need to find gainful employment. Their battle is getting experience so they can get hired. The Chamber in partnership with Incite Inc (this region’s workforce investment board) has run the pilot for the Career Achievement Network (aka theNET) to help youth gain the experience they desire and the soft skills employers say they want. With the unique access the Salem Chamber has to our local business community, nearly 200 young adults were able to complete their intern hours and gain skills necessary to attain gainful employment.
A special thank you to Incite Inc for their partnership in helping get theNET launched from July 2014 through June 2016. Programs like this are absolutely crucial as we prepare our future workforce for productive futures.