Program pairs personal development with volunteerism to help out-of-work job seekers.
By Stephanie Colman
Published: Wednesday, December 15, 2010
As area unemployment holds steady at more than 10 percent, LA Fellows, part of Valley College's Job Training department, connects out-of-work professionals and area non-profits to create a win-win situation..
"LA Fellows is a unique training program that provides job seekers with a combination of professional development and volunteerism to serve as a meaningful pathway to employment," said Valley President Sue Carleo.
The program began in September and is funded by the City of Los Angeles Community Development Department through the City of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board. Funding will support four sessions of thirty fellows each. More than 100 professionals applied for the first 30 openings.
Those accepted to the program receive 140 hours of training throughout seven weeks. Training is provided by Valley Job Training staff members and area executive career coaches, and includes critical thinking, resume writing, advanced computer skills, professional grant writing and generating business leads. The training is free, however participants must commit to volunteering a minimum of 100 hours with a partnering non-profit organization of their choice.
Project Coordinator Allison Deutch says placing fellows with area non-profits gives them the opportunity to participate in a real, hands-on activity where they can demonstrate initiative and leadership, and leave with a marketable experience on their resume.
"We want them to take on a project. It's not just stuffing envelopes for eight hours," Deutch said. "We work with non-profits that want (fellows) to come in and work on event planning, or work in the accounting department and doing an audit, or work on a Web site for a marketing project."
Paul Van Ast, deputy executive director for Community Career Development, Inc., a non-profit organization specializing in workforce development, has nothing but praise for the three LA Fellows originally assigned to his office.
"They were great. They jumped right in and helped with paperwork, interviewing and counseling," he said. "It was a huge help. It really was a great bunch of people. I've already asked when can I get some more."
Van Ast was so impressed with one of the fellows, he offered her full-time employment at the close of her volunteer service. So far, six fellows have successfully found work since completing the program and graduating in November.
Those still looking for work now do so with a renewed sense of purpose.
"The best thing about the program is that I now have more confidence in my job search. I know I'm not alone," said first-session fellow Kimberly James. "When you're out of work, it's easy to lose motivation. I really regained my motivation with this program. It's a confidence builder."
The next session of LA Fellows begins on Jan. 24, 2011. Interested applicants must attend an orientation session in the Valley cafeteria conference room on Dec. 21 or Jan. 6 at 10 a.m. and submit an application no later than Jan. 7 at 2 p.m.
For more information, visit www.lafellows.org or call (818) 947-2941.
HELPING - The L.A. Fellows place out of work professionals into volunteer jobs.