Wednesday, December 18, 2013

One More Orientation Added for LA Fellows Cohort 9

One additional LA Fellows orientation has been added for the class that will begin training on January 13th, Cohort 9. We are looking for unemployed midcareer professionals who are motivated, hard-working and enthusiastic, with solid work experience, who are looking for their next career opportunity.

LA Fellows receive free professional training covering executive level topics including advanced job search techniques, critical thinking, negotiating, and advanced computer skills. LA Fellows also volunteer their time and talents by sharing their professional expertise at local nonprofit organizations through meaningful project based roles. Throughout the program, LA Fellows will gain invaluable career growth skills, job search assistance, and receive the opportunity to give back to the community while they seek full-time employment.

Interested job seekers will need to attend the orientation in order for their application to be considered.

Friday, January 3rd, 9:00am. Be prepared to stay two hours.

Los Angeles Valley College
5800 Fulton Avenue – Job Training
Valley Glen, CA 91401-4096
Located in Administration Building         

Free parking in Lot B at the corner of Oxnard St. and Fulton Ave.

Additional information may be found on our website,

Monday, December 9, 2013

First LA Fellows Reunion Mixer

On November 19th, over 60 alumni of LA Fellows gathered at the Robin Hood Pub & Restaurant in Sherman Oaks to mix, mingle, network and reminisce on their time in the LA Fellows program.
This is the first time all 8 cohorts of the program have gathered in one place. The event was organized and hosted by Katie Mills (shown here with Job Training Director Lennie Ciufo) and her fellow graduates of Cohort 8.

The night kicked off with good news from Cohort 8 graduate Nicole Trejo, who recently landed a position with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Photo Archives Department.

Former classmates had time to catch up ...
Accomplishments were celebrated...

Successes were shared...
New friends and network connections were built...
Old friendships were renewed...
Fellows acknowledged the work done by earlier classes that built the foundation of the program...

...And recent classes were celebrated for carrying on traditions and taking our successes to the next level.
By all accounts, the mixer was a great success.
It is always inspiring to have a group of LA Fellows together, talking about their experiences as a result of the program. The most common sentiment expressed? "It changed my life." We're looking forward to more of these gatherings in the future, especially when we have a new Cohort 9 to add to the fun!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"The Experience of a Lifetime"

By Kristi Hazama, Cohort 8

Last spring, I had returned from Japan where I taught English for two years.  Feeling motivated and hopeful, I was eager to return to the higher education field and felt excited about the new possibilities.  Immediately, I began submitting resumes and online applications and started researching job opportunities.   Week after week, I remained optimistic, anticipating the phone call that would change my life forever.  However, as time passed, I heard from absolutely no one.  The silence was deafening; the utter lack of response was quite distressing.  And slowly my spirits started to decline.  I wondered if I would ever find a job. 

Around June, a family friend mentioned LA Fellows.  I was hesitant about pursuing this opportunity, thinking I’d receive a job offer soon enough.  But deep down, I was simply afraid.  LA Fellows would be a step out of my comfort zone, teaching me to take a more proactive approach to my job search. 

I decided to attend the final mandatory orientation, albeit still with much reluctance.  But throughout the orientation, I knew there was something different and unique about LA Fellows.  By the end of the morning, I knew this would be the experience of a lifetime.

LA Fellows was indeed, a life changing experience. 

I gained a new level of confidence in my skills and as I rediscovered this confidence, I also gained more clarity into my professional interests and values.  And while this newfound confidence and clarity through LA Fellows was a huge personal win, I am most grateful for the camaraderie among my colleagues in cohort 8. LA Fellows is so unique because it connects people from different educational, professional and life experiences.  I learned a great deal from my cohort, and their support was absolutely incredible.
Also, I was helped personally and professionally through the LA Fellows’ volunteer experience.  My hours were completed at the ALS Association, which focuses on the fight to defeat Lou Gehrig’s disease.  It was an incredible experience as we hosted a number of “Walks to Defeat ALS” to raise awareness and funds in the fight to defeat this debilitating disease.  I had the privilege of collaborating with the Walk Directors; we focused on outreach to donors, coordinated with volunteers, oversaw the logistical planning. Volunteering was such a fulfilling experience as you build relationships with people in the organization and make a contribution in a meaningful way. 

I would not be where I am today without LA Fellows.  It truly has been a precious gift, one that keeps on giving.
Kristi with Danny Syto and Jennifer Garcia, graduates of Cohort 8

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

“So, What Do You Do?”

By Danny Syto, Cohort 8

I was very fortunate to have worked for a boss who allowed me to create my own job title just as long as it does not have the word “Chief” in it. So I claimed the title “Emperor of Project Management.”  It was amusing at that time and sure to get a chuckle when I was asked “What do you do?” whether it is in the office or in networking events.

However, things changed when I was laid off.  First of all, I do not like the phrase “laid off”.  It has such a negative connotation. I wish there was another word for it.  The corporate world use the polite term “Reduction in Force” but then people changed it into a verb by saying “I was RIFed”.  I would rather use the term “Job Seeker.” 

Things changed when I became a Job Seeker.  Inevitably, during one of the functions I was attending with my kids and other parents, I was asked the question “So, what do you do?”  I felt like I had a big neon sign on my back that said “laid off” and I could not tell them that I was still the “Emperor.”  The best I could do is mumble the words “I’m in transition” while looking down at the floor. 

I felt like I was subhuman because I know what’s behind that seemingly innocuous first question we often ask of strangers.  It meant “How much money do you make? What is your socioeconomic status? How do I compare to you? Are you worth my time?”

A couple of times I tried to dodge the question by saying “I’m a Dad of three boys and we like to go fishing and hang out together.”  I still get in a tight spot when they follow up with a more direct “Where exactly do you work?”  Whenever I encounter these questions I often end up writing an entire page in my journal with reflections of why I felt like dirt.  I remember gathering my kids to tell them that if anyone asks what I do, tell them I’m retired.  “I used to be a Rocket Scientist, but I’m now retired, get it?” “Dad, I didn’t know you were a Rocket Scientist, can we still buy that video game?”   Later on, I found that this could backfire and hinder my chances of getting employed.

Since joining the LA Fellows I learned that I can control how to respond to these situations. There are times when strangers just want to strike up a conversation or engage in small talk.  I see the possibility of networking. These days, I respond according to the situation.  I really enjoy volunteering for my nonprofit and there was a time when I confidently said “I’m a Grant Writer” looking at them straight in the eye.  It even surprised some people who were close to me knowing that I’m not employed, - or am I?  In that particular situation, I found out that the other person was also a job seeker.

The best response however, is just telling them that I’m a Project Management Professional looking for better opportunities.  It’s a fact, these days people who are employed will need to continually look for better opportunities.  It’s also a matter of which small voice in my head I choose listen to: Am I a victim of the situation? Am I the captain of my ship?

Next time someone asks you the question, “What do you do?” Tell them what you are passionate about.

I’m passionate about sharing what I know.  As an LA Fellow, I continue to learn and challenge myself. Most of all, I am an active job seeker, that’s what I do. 
By the way, I’m no longer the Emperor; I’m here to serve you.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

LA Fellows Getting More Attention Online

All of us here at the LA Fellows program are excited to see the online press pick up on the story we previously posted about, which ran on This article has since been reposted on and referenced and linked to in an article on We are very proud of the difference we are making and happy that the world is hearing about the work we do.

To see the additional articles, click on the following links:

If you know anyone in the Los Angeles area who is looking for a job, please have them read these articles and come to one of our orientations. Also, please retweet, like, and share on all of your social media accounts - LA Fellows is making a difference!


New Dates and Location: LA Fellows Program is Seeking Unemployed Job Seekers for Free Training and Networking Opportunities

Los Angeles Valley College Job Training is searching for unemployed men and women for the LA Fellows program. The program will provide unemployed individuals with skills training and volunteer opportunities while they seek full-time positions.

LA Fellows participants will be selected through an application and interview process. They will receive nine weeks of training at Los Angeles Valley College covering executive level topics, including, critical thinking, advanced job search skills, and how to generate effective business leads. In return, participants will volunteer their time and talents by sharing their professional expertise through project based roles at local nonprofits.

The LA Fellows participants will acquire new skill sets, encounter countless opportunities to network with professionals, and project a marketable career candidate impression while presenting a community-focused image.

We hope you can join us at one of our informational sessions to learn more about the LA Fellows program and application process, and get your questions answered. Job Seekers only need to attend one informational session.

LA Fellows Informational Sessions:
Wednesday, December 11, 9:00am
Tuesday, December 17, 9:00am
Los Angeles Valley College
5800 Fulton Avenue
Valley Glen, CA 91401-4096
Building:   Library
Room:       200 A, 2nd Floor
Free parking in Lot B at the corner of Oxnard St. and Fulton Ave. Parking tickets will not be issued during the informational sessions.

An additional orientation will be held:

Friday, December 6, 10:00am

Pacoima EDD/WorkSource
11623 Glen Oaks Blvd.
Pacoima, CA 91331
Free parking on site

An application is available online and you are encouraged to fill it out prior to attending the informational session – but it is not required to attend.

If you know other job seekers who might be interested in the program, please encourage them to attend one of the informational sessions.

For more information about the LA Fellows program, please visit: or call 818.947.2941.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

LA Fellows is Making National News

Most of our readers are well past their Sesame Street years, but did you know that PBS has created a place for us just around the corner? Their website, Next Avenue, is a place where "grown-ups keep growing." There is a whole section on Work and Purpose with lots of informative articles that job seekers could find useful.

Next Avenue reporter Elizabeth Isele spoke to LA Fellows Program Director Allison Silver and two of our many LA Fellows graduates, Nicholas Koutouras of Cohort 2 and Christine Stenberg of Cohort 1 about our unique, award-winning program. Their stories are heavily featured in an article just posted about getting work after long-term unemployment. Check out the original story here:
Next Avenue Logo

or read on...

Programs and Tips to Help the Long-Term Unemployed

How workers over 50 can land a position, even if they've been jobless for months

More than 4 million Americans today make up the nation’s “long-term unemployed,” those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more. That’s down from 5 million a year ago, but still an enormous number.

About the only good news for these people, often in their 50s or 60s, is that there are some innovative public/private collaborative programs successfully getting the long-term unemployed back to work.

If you’re 50+ and have been
looking for a job for awhile or know someone like that, these programs are worth a look.

Workforce agencies across the country are reaching out to help thousands of displaced boomers, according to
Yvette Chocolaad, employment and training director for the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. Exacerbating the challenge is the increased complexity of job searches today. People looking for work now need social media marketing and personal branding skills as well as an ability to craft their resumes to include the right keywords and meet employers’ needs.

The Platform to Employment Program

One program with proven success is the Connecticut-based
Platform to Employment, profiled by Next Avenue in January and featured on 60 Minutes. Platform to Employment gives jobless people five weeks of training and then places them as interns at local employers — where they generally wind up getting hired.

Lately, Platform to Employment has expanded across the country. This year, the concept has popped up in Dallas, Cincinnati, San Diego, Chicago, Minneapolis, Newark, N.J., and, most recently, Denver. Detroit and Orlando, Fla., are on tap for this winter and San Francisco is expected to follow early next year.

The LA Fellows Program

Chocolaad also gives high marks to the
LA Fellows program. Here's how it works, along with advice for midlife job-seekers from two graduates, Nicholas Koutouras and Christine Stenberg.

Launched in 2010, LA Fellows was created at Los Angeles Valley College, which saw an opportunity to address two pressing community problems: Thousands of highly skilled, middle manager-level men and women looking for work and 30 percent of local nonprofits were in danger of closing because of staffing cutbacks due to the economic climate.

The program was originally funded by Los Angeles’s Community Development Department and is now supported by local WorkSource Centers, plus a variety of government and private partners.

The LA Fellows are selected through an application and interview process just as rigorous as if the candidates were applying for jobs. Project director Allison Silver says she looks for proactive job seekers with a serious commitment and an eagerness to learn.

Once accepted, Fellows receive seven weeks of free training, including sessions on beefing up their computer and
networking skills. Then they’re matched up with nearby nonprofits, where they volunteer their services for 100 hours. The projects range from updating websites to creating marketing plans to event planning to grant writing.

So far, 230 LA Fellows have graduated (each class is called a cohort) and the program has a nearly 70 percent job placement rate in Los Angeles, a city with one of the country's highest unemployment rates: 9.2 percent.

Silver says employers now come to her, asking: "How can I get an LA Fellow to come and work for me?"

Koutouras' Success Story and Advice

Here’s how LA Fellows' graduates Nicholas Koutouras and Christine Stenberg parlayed their training into satisfying, well-paid jobs and the advice they offer to the unemployed:
 LA Fellows graduate Nicholas Koutouras
Koutouras was in his late 40's when he lost his job as senior financial manager at a bank in May 2010. With a master's degree in accounting and information systems, he had built a successful career as a finance exec with large banks, insurers and accounting firms until a corporate merger eliminated his position.

Koutouras knew that hiring managers preferred to offer jobs to people who were currently working and that an LA Fellow volunteering assignment would fill that bill. After being accepted as a Fellow and going through the program's training, he was matched
with the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House to be a grant writer there.

Just prior to starting that volunteer work, however, Koutouras landed a full-time job as a senior vice president at a major national bank. He took the position (and has since been promoted). But eager to honor his Fellows commitment, Koutouras also joined a finance development committee for the Ronald McDonald House's Board of Trustees.

These days, Koutouras continues volunteering in his community — he’s on the board of the Ronald McDonald House and another group — and is an LA Fellows mentor.

Koutouras’ tips for job hunters:

1. Go get your future. "Be proactive. Once you've decided the direction you wish to go, target a company or industry and focus on preparing for your next role there," he says.

2. Join a professional organization. "Don't tell yourself you can't afford the dues; many waive their fees or reduce them for people who are currently unemployed," says Koutouras. "I joined the Financial Professionals International Association and within months I was made vice president of programs. This allowed me to directly interface with more than 300 senior level executives and practice 'my unemployed story' in a safe environment."

3. Don't waste your time sending out blind resumes or scrolling through web job boards. "Tap the hidden job market revealed to you through your network connections," he says. "Through this effort, you will learn about expansion plans at your target companies, job openings due to promotions and turnover and the identities of influential decision makers. Be sure to follow up on any of their
hidden' job tips."

Stenberg's Success Story and Advice

LA Fellows graduate Christine Stenberg

Christine Stenberg, then in her early 50s, endured a traumatic 30 days from mid-April to mid-May in 2010. Her relationship ended, two of her Labrador retrievers died and she was laid off from her IT management position due to a cutback.

Then, Stenberg was chosen for the first LA Fellows class and she has never looked back.

Her Fellows volunteer match was at a WorkSource career development center, where she trained and helped place unemployed individuals in bio-tech and pharmaceutical companies. After 43 hours of volunteering, WorkSource hired her full-time.

She then helped 60 clients find jobs before the poor economy forced the government to slash funding at the center. Sensing layoffs were coming, Stenberg drew on her new found LA Fellows confidence and skills to land a business analyst job at the National Notary Association.

Stenberg, who has since been promoted to IT manager, shares her story with each new LA Fellows class. Her three tips for the unemployed:

1. Stay positive. "Over time, your situation will change," says Stenberg. "I could have been extremely down when I lost my job and dogs. Instead, the day I was laid off, I arrived home to find four offers on my home that I had put up for sale. As a result, I didn’t have to worry about my finances and could focus on my job search."

2. Research your options online. "See what a company you're interested in says about itself," she advises. "But even more importantly, find out what others are saying about that company. What's its culture? Would you feel comfortable working there? Are current employees happy or do you spot a lot of turnover? If you like what you learn, use your networks to find an employee at the company who’d be willing to give you an
informational interview."

3. Don’t let fear hold you back. "On my first day at LA Fellows," Stenberg says, "I expressed my fear of public speaking, which is a skill that’s key to your success in the program. Throughout the training, I took advantage of every opportunity to speak publicly and, as the program concluded, my colleagues selected me as one of our graduation speakers. Now that I’ve overcome this fear, I have spoken to the Los Angeles Mayor's committee and the Los Angeles Community College Board of Directors, among others, about the importance of the LA Fellows program and what it did for me."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The LA Fellows Experience by Jonathan Berger

At the informational orientations that are held to introduce people to the LA Fellows program, former Fellows come in and share their experience in the program to give job seekers who are considering applying the inside scoop on what they can expect. Jonathan Berger of Cohort 8 spoke at a recent session and agreed to share his thoughts for the blog as well:

Why did you apply for the LA Fellows program?
I am an attorney. I went to UCLA undergrad and then USC Law School.  I even did a semester at Notre Dame.  So I always have someone to root for on a Saturday afternoon.  In my career I’ve worked for several large hospital and healthcare companies, most recently a 12-year stint with a large pharmaceutical company.  Everything was going quite well for me until the division that I was working for was closed down by the parent company.  I was laid off, and went on unemployment for the first time in my life.

In many ways I was very lucky.  I was given a generous severance package in light of my length of service, and I was even brought back for a time as a consultant to help with the wind down.  I was provided “outplacement” services including a private coach for interviewing skills and job search strategies, a resume consultant to revise and improve my resume, and similar services.  It was a great “package” – but it didn’t work!

I thought that I was doing all the right things, sending out resumes, using the job boards like Indeed, Monster and Simply Hired. I was going to some networking meetings and things like that.   I had some interviews with some good organizations here in Los Angeles, up in the Bay Area, even Arizona.  I came close several times, but nothing clicked.  Over time I settled into a routine of half-heartedly applying for jobs that I didn’t expect to get.  Getting comfortable with being unemployed.  Finding things to occupy my time but not really getting anywhere.

Then I heard about the LA Fellows.  I came to an Orientation to find out more about the program.  I didn’t really know what to expect, but I had a feeling that this program was what I needed to get myself back on track.  There’s a famous saying that goes:  “90% of success is showing up”.  I showed up!

What you gained from the training portion of LA Fellows?
It may be a cliché that we’re tired of hearing:  “You only get out of something what you put in” – but that sums up the LA Fellows program very well.  Allison Silver and her team have assembled one of the best groups of instructors that I’ve ever seen and put together a series of classes that are more than simply a job search boot camp, they actually provide an education on not only how to be the candidate that will be selected, but how keep that job and continue to build your skills and your network to prepare you for the job after that, and the job after that, and so on. 

What were the benefits of being a part of Cohort 8?
There were twenty-two Fellows in Cohort 8.  It wasn’t quite the cast of the movie “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” but we were a very diverse group.  We did, however, have a few things in common: We’re serious about improving ourselves professionally and we look out for one another!  We are willing to learn, and we are willing to help each other.  Whether it was looking over each other’s resume, conducting practice interviews, staying after class to help with setting up a LinkedIn profile or sharing job leads, the Crazy Eights work as a team.  It was nice to be part of a team again.

It was also really good to have a regular schedule.  It may seem strange to say, but having things to do, assignments with due dates, etc., are exactly what we needed to get our minds back in shape.  The instructors know that there’d be nothing worse for us than to land a job and then fall flat on our faces on a task, or have attendance problems with being late.

The class schedule is rigorous.  The days are long and the breaks were short.  But that’s what the “real world” is like, isn’t it?  This program will get you in shape – believe me.

Where did you volunteer and what did gain from your nonprofit volunteer experience?
I came from the for profit sector.  I didn’t have much experience with nonprofits, at least not with how they operate and what the internal dynamics are like.  As part of the LA Fellows program, and in return for the education and training that LA Fellows receive, they are required to perform 100 hours of service for a nonprofit organization.   The LA Fellows program has a network of nonprofit organizations that are eager to have bright, motivated folks work as interns to gain work experience and make connections.

In order to get your internship you have to apply for the jobs the same way you would a “real” job. I got valuable experience applying for the internship positions, tailoring and sending resumes, scheduling interviews, showing up for interviews, being on time, not spilling my coffee, having a spare resume with me and remembering what it says, all that good stuff.

How did being an LA Fellows help you land your job/get more interviews, etc.?
The nonprofit internship interviews were a very positive experience.  In particular, it felt nice to be “wanted” and for it to be more of a “two-way street”, where I was actually interviewing the nonprofit and deciding if it was a good fit for me. 

My volunteer work was done at The Center for Nonprofit Management in downtown LA.  It is a “capacity builder” helping other nonprofits in Southern California with management and organization strategies, consulting services and executive coaching.  My work there has given me valuable experience in my sector, healthcare, and it has given me something real and current to talk about in interviews, networking conversations, etc.

So, did the LA Fellows work for you?
Yes, it worked!  Just recently, I had a three-hour interview with a small law firm downtown.  It  was great to feel so prepared and confident.  I used my STAR stories (where one gives an example of a “Situation, Task, Action and Result” that demonstrates one’s skills and experience) and I presented a strong and well-reasoned case for how the hiring manager would be glad to hire me.  So, I was delighted to be offered a job as an attorney working on healthcare and corporate transactions, which is exactly the kind of work that I wanted to do! The job is starting out as a part-time position, which is actually good so that I can ease into it.  But I get the feeling that it’s going to be full-time fairly soon.

I would advise candidates for the LA Fellows program to take the application very seriously, especially the essay or personal statement portion. Even if writing isn’t your strong suit if you’re honest about who you are and what you want to do then that will come through.  Allison and the LA Fellows team spend many hours on the selection process, and there really are many qualified people who don’t get in – so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get chosen the first time, you can apply again.

I can honestly say that I don’t think that I’d have gotten my new job without the training and support that I received from the LA Fellows program.  If you want to really take your job search to the next level then this is the program for you.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Difference Volunteering Makes

In addition to 140 hours of classroom training on job search techniques and executive level professional topics, an important part of the LA Fellows program involves each Fellow volunteering at least 100 hours of their time and talents for a project at a nonprofit organization of their choice. The volunteer component is the piece that sets LA Fellows apart from other programs designed to retrain and get unemployed individuals back to work.

The most recent class (or “Cohort” in Fellow-speak) graduated August 30th and has shown amazing cohesiveness and commitment to staying in touch, supporting each other and making sure they all stay on the path of what they learned in the program until they are re-employed. The “Crazy 8’s,” as LA Fellows Cohort 8 has dubbed themselves, recently gathered for their weekly accountability meeting to check in on their progress, cheer for those who’ve landed jobs so far and chart their plans for the next week. Most of them have now completed their 100 hour commitment to their nonprofits and they reflected on their experiences.

Bruce Elsperger, an experienced live-entertainment management professional, chose to donate his hours to EngAGE, an organization that brings the arts to local senior centers. Bruce spent his hours teaching drama and improv classes for three of their centers around the Los Angeles area. When he started LA Fellows training, he was thinking of finding a career that would allow him to work with baby-boomers making the transition to the next phase of life. According to Bruce, his volunteer internship reaffirmed that passion and made him more sure of the path he wants to pursue.

At one center he taught at, he had a dramatic performance for their last class. On the day of the performance, one of the seniors was taken to the hospital (over protestations that he couldn’t miss the show!) and Bruce had to fill in. That meant someone had to take over the duties of the narrator that Bruce, as the director, would otherwise have done. He asked one of the ladies who came to the group but had not previously participated if she would take over for him. She was honored that he believed she could do it and told him after the show, “You have just fulfilled one of the items on my bucket list.” 

At another site, a small group gathered on their last day to do prepared readings. One woman arrived for the class who had not previously been available to attend. Bruce let her know it was the last day, but asked if she would be willing to do a cold reading with one of the other residents. She agreed, with the disclaimer that she had never done anything like that before. As showbiz folks would say, she killed, she performed like an expert actress. As she returned to her seat showered by applause, she told him “You have fulfilled a 5 year old’s dream.”

As each of the three classes was ending, evaluation forms were passed out to the participants to solicit feedback on the experience. There were many rave reviews, praising his efforts, but Bruce told the other Fellows at the meeting about one particular evaluation that really touched him. After the participant wrote that the best thing about the class was the teacher, the form asked what he/she had learned. The answer was: “to try to live again.”

As Bruce’s experience shows, LA Fellows volunteer component gives participants an opportunity to try new things, keep their existing skills current and test their ideas for transitioning. It also reminds Fellows that they are not defined by their unemployment, they are still professionals, valuable experts who have a lot to contribute.  The organizations Fellows serve, and their clients, benefit in so many meaningful ways.

Of course the most important thing is that LA Fellows helps people get back to work. In addition to all the good he did for others, Bruce got a paying job offer to teach a series of classes for one of the senior centers he worked at. Bravo Bruce! Another LA Fellows success story, in more ways than one.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Become an LA Fellow - Now Recruiting for Cohort 9!

Los Angeles Valley College Job Training is searching for unemployed men and women for the LA Fellows program. The program will provide unemployed mid-career individuals with skills training and volunteer opportunities while they seek full-time positions.

LA Fellows participants will be selected through an application and interview process. They will receive nine weeks of training at Los Angeles Valley College covering executive level topics, including critical thinking, advanced job search skills, and how to generate effective business leads. In return, participants will volunteer their time and talents by sharing their professional expertise through project based roles at local nonprofits.

The LA Fellows participants will acquire new skill sets, encounter countless opportunities to network with professionals, and project a marketable career candidate impression while presenting a community-focused image.

Interested individuals can join us at one of our informational sessions to learn more about the LA Fellows program and application process, and get their questions answered. Job Seekers only need to attend one informational session.

LA Fellows Informational Sessions - Be prepared to stay two hours. There are two locations:

Friday, October 18, 9:00am
Friday, October 25, 9:00am
Wednesday, October 30, 9:00am

Los Angeles Valley College
5800 Fulton Avenue – Job Training Office
Valley Glen, CA 91401-4096
Located in Administration Building

Free parking in available in Lot B at the corner of Oxnard St. and Fulton Ave. Parking tickets will not be issued during the informational sessions. ******************************************************
Tuesday, October 29, 10:00am

Pacoima EDD/WorkSource
11623 Glen Oaks Blvd.
Pacoima, CA 91331

Free parking on site

An application is available online and you are encouraged to fill it out prior to attending the informational session – but it is not required to attend. If you know other job seekers who might be interested in the program, please encourage them to attend one of the informational sessions.

For more information about the LA Fellows program, please visit: or call 818.947.2941.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Advice for A Cohort

From a speech given at Cohort 8's Graduation, August 30, 2013:
My name is Mary Turner and I am a proud LA Fellow graduate of Cohort 7.

I was sitting where these Fellows are just 5 months ago. It has been my distinct pleasure to be the Program Assistant for this Cohort, seeing them through orientation, those first nervous interviews and - sorry guys – horrendous resumes, through their acceptance into the program and all the hard work, camaraderie and victories that followed. (Including *much* improved resumes!)

My Fellows of Cohort 8, you’ll get praise and congratulations and recaps all day from others, so I’ll leave that to those who are more eloquent than I am. You deserve it.

What I will offer you is some brief advice from someone who sat where you are sitting now poised to go forth and conquer the world once again.

Remember who you are. You are adaptable: bonding with a group of strangers from a diverse array of backgrounds and quickly becoming a team is a skill that served you well in this adventure and will carry you far in the next one.

Remember that you are in charge of managing your career. Make mindful decisions to get to where you want to be, don’t let fear make the decisions for you.

It’s okay to use a stepping stone to bridge a gap, until you’re ready for the next step, but don’t settle there if it’s not your destination. You may need to take a job to take care of finances or get the education you need for your goal, and that’s okay. Just remember that you are in motion, know your target.

Re-evaluate from time to time. Ask yourself:  Is what you’re doing working? If not,  make adjustments.

Stay in touch. You will not lose the need for your network once you’ve landed your next job. Or the next one. Or the one after that.  This is a support team you will be hard pressed to match anywhere.

Even if your career doesn’t take you toward the nonprofit field, stay connected to the nonprofit world. It needs the talent, intelligence and heart you have to offer. This is such a giving, caring group of people. Giving back will strengthen you wherever you go.

Never stop learning. Never stop sharing your knowledge. Your time in LA Fellows is a gift – pay it forward.

Never stop saying yes. Keep your search in motion. Be ready.

If your job search stalls, and you start to slide into old habits, call a fellow Fellow. Go over your action steps again. Ask yourself: What would Lynnette tell me to do?

My last piece of advice is advice I got from my favorite Fellow, Geni from Cohort 7: if you don’t feel like you’re making progress, get your face in front of people. Go to a conference, a board meeting, a seminar,  volunteer for your professional organization, find a new nonprofit to assist with something just beyond your comfort zone, but get your face in front of people.

This is especially true for this group: you are amazing human beings, and anyone who meets you can’t help but be impressed. I have been honored to be able to help you on your Fellows journey and hope you never doubt that you can do this and do this well. I hope you will stay in touch and return to regale me with the tales of your future successes. I know you will each do great things. Congratulations.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cohort 8 Graduation - Photo

A fresh group of "bright, shiny pennies" took center stage on Friday August 30, 2013 to claim their graduation certificates and celebrate their experience as proud participants in Cohort 8 of the LA Fellows program. We congratulate them on their accomplishments to date and look forward to hearing about all the great things they will do as a result of the inspiration they've received from their instuctors and the great work they've done using what they've learned.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cohort 8 Graduation- Terry Proctor

Thanks to the camera of Fellow Danny Syto, we are able to bring you a video of Cohort 8's other graduation speaker, Terry Proctor, giving his thoughts on their completion of the LA Fellows experience.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cohort 8 Graduation - Katie Mills

On Friday August 30, 2013, Cohort 8 of the LA Fellows program celebrated their graduation. One of their chosen speakers was Katie Mills. Here are the words of reflection she shared to celebrate their LA Fellows experience:

Was I shouting? Was I yelling? I hope so, because our teacher Larry taught us to start our public speaking by yelling like crazy people – he thinks this conveys confidence. I’m not sure that was loud enough, so can I ask my cohort to stand up and help show Larry and our guests today that we have learned to greet people?

(Everyone in Cohort 8 yells together):


Thank you  – This teamwork is just a small demonstration of the camaraderie that we have built over the past eight weeks in LA Fellows, and we’ve done so by watching each other go through embarrassing activities that took us out of our comfort zone.

In early July, we came in here as 22 isolated job seekers and have become over these past seven weeks a transformed community dedicated to supporting one another in becoming the bright shiny pennies that our teacher Lynnette coached us to be.

Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow, we’ve been on a transformational journey, and today we’re celebrating because we HAVE found our courage, our hearts, and our brains through LA Fellows. We’ve melted the scary Wicked Witch, we’ve pulled back the curtain on the all-powerful Oz, and we’re here today to mark this amazing journey from downbeaten job seekers to eager and excited interns who are ready to land a rewarding job. Thanks to LA Fellows, we have learned to have a vision today rather than merely a survival plan.

Like the travelers on the Yellow Brick Road, we in Cohort 8 have bonded because we’ve survived so many challenges together. Standing in front of your peers and yelling “good morning” might not seem so scary to you in the audience, but it was intimidating to actually sit and watch while each one of us stood in front of the class like little mice yelling in squeaky voices and doing it over and over and over again until we sounded like big, brave lions. Ditto for leading the beat in the amazing and wonderful afternoon of the drum circle with Roberto. I won’t even mention how Jim tied us up with rope on the very first morning of class, or how Lynnette forced us to be confident and proud of ourselves.

I want to credit Lennie Ciufo, Allison Silver, Mary Turner, and Keri Luna for providing a fantastic, well-planned curriculum that took us at a good pace on a journey of reflection, action, and intentionality. They also recruited truly wonderful teachers, and I speak for all of us when I say thanks to Jim Marteney, Lynnette Ward, Larry Braman, Andrea Mitchel, Kim Eberhardt, Roberto Gutierrez, Tony Jaramillo, Doug Card, and Allison Silver.

Some of our most important bonding experiences were not on the curriculum. For me, our cohesion began early, in our second week of classes, when one of us had a medical emergency. Seeing one of us down while the EMTs rushed in – that symbolized our vulnerability:

·         first of all, as humans, w/ the mere fact of mortality,

·         but also as unemployed adults living on budgets, no one sure if the other even had medical insurance or someone at home to take care of us.

We recognized then that we were all in this together, that we had already become comrades on a team, no longer isolated individuals. (And, I’m happy to report that our friend bounced back immediately.)

Seeing people step up and take responsibility for someone in need is empowering, and it set the tone for the rest of our time together. Allison, Mary, and all our teachers had always embodied an ethos of support, caring and respect. When we collectively embraced this during that second week of classes, it snowballed, expanding exponentially as we all authentically began enjoying, appreciating, and looking out for each other.

The sweet moments were when Danny made us all Filipino deep fried bananas, when Mark brought the pie made by his mother, Mrs. Barbara Washington, when Daryl brought the flowers and Dawn brought the strawberry cake for Allison’s birthday.

I’d like to thank LA Valley College, the Job Training Department and the LA Fellows Advisory Board for supporting a program whose positive impact radiates out into our society as a positive response to the economic challenges that characterize the past five years. Globalization and technology have altered job stability, and weakening wage power makes more and more workers vulnerable in our tough economic times.   

I want to note that today’s graduation takes place just before the Labor Day holiday and two days after the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, which was also called the March for Jobs & Freedom, fighting for economic justice alongside civil rights.  There is an intimate link between employment and our nation’s political wellbeing, and the contribution being made by LA Fellows is significant and deserves recognition.

I want to thank our families and friends who have supported us through these eight weeks – I’m especially grateful to my husband for taking on more than half of the cooking, grocery shopping, and dog-walking responsibilities, and for his support of the goals I set during LA Fellows.

Let’s have a round of applause for our supporters.

We’re happy to have our supervisors here from our nonprofit organizations. Our internships allow us to use our skills, even those that have been buried under pragmatism and responsibilities, and to give back to society some of the caring and generosity we have been so privileged to enjoy in LA Fellows.

Cohort 8 greeted you in one voice at the beginning of my talk, and yet there will be 22 different endings to our story as we leave our program and move on. We are graduating into the important role of LA Fellow alumni, serving as ambassadors in our nonprofits and – soon -- in new jobs of the transformative work being done here at LA Valley College by Lennie and his team.

So Cohort 8, let’s click our ruby slippers and remember:

There’s no place like LA Fellows, there’s no place like LA Fellows, there’s no place like LA Fellows, and for that, we thank you all for supporting us as we journey forth.