Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Veterans Hiring Expo - June 30th at LAVC, Open to the Public

There's a Veterans Hiring Expo for job seekers happening on the campus of Los Angeles Valley College next Tuesday, June 30th. Veterans and civilians are all urged to attend, it is open to the public. Parking is free in the structure, dress to impress and bring your resumes. We are privileged to have Congressman Tony Cardenas in attendance as the keynote speaker, so make your plans to be there. Details and RSVP instructions below:

Monday, June 22, 2015

Orientations Scheduled for West Hollywood and Marina Del Rey, Two More at Los Angeles Valley College - Attend One Session to Learn About Becoming an LA Fellow

Who are the LA Fellows?
Los Angeles Valley College’s LA Fellows program is a unique collaboration combining professional development and volunteerism as a meaningful pathway to employment. LA Fellows are motivated, hard-working, enthusiastic professionals with solid work experience who are unemployed and are actively seeking their next career opportunity. A highly recognized program, LA Fellows has appeared in Forbes.com, the New York Times, KTLA Channel 5 news, and has been spotlighted by the Department of Labor.

Make a Difference in Your Career
LA Fellows receive nine weeks of free training in advanced job-seeking skills and executive-level topics including leadership, critical thinking, and generating job leads. Optional classes in advanced computer skills and grant writing are available to participants. Training begins July 27, 2015.

Be the Difference in Your Community
LA Fellows volunteer their professional expertise through project-based roles at local nonprofit organizations. Designed to use the skills and ideas taught in class to augment the nonprofit experience and reinforce learning, the program provides participants with invaluable career growth skills, job search assistance, and the opportunity to give back to the community while seeking full-time employment.

Become an LA Fellow
Attend an informational session to learn more about the program and application process. Job seekers only need to attend one informational session. Be prepared to stay two hours. Visit www.lafellows.org or call 818.947.2941 for more information.

Information Sessions:
June 26th  - 10:30 a.m.
 JVS West Hollywood AJCC
at the
West Hollywood Library
625 N. San Vicente Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Parking is in the building and is validated for 3 hours.

July 1st – 10:00 a.m.
 JVS WorkSource Center
13160 Mindanao Way #240
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

Check in at Suite 105

Free validated parking

July 7th  & 10th - 10:00 a.m.
 Los Angeles Valley College
5800 Fulton Avenue
Valley Glen, CA 91401-4096

Located in the Library building, Second Floor, Room 201

Free parking on the 4th floor of the Parking Structure at the corner of Hatteras St. and Ethel Ave. Campus map is available at www.lavc.edu/map.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Job Seeker's Handbook: Two Questions for Transitioners

Education, family, the workplace, the Internet - there's a lot of information out there about how to be a good employee, but did anyone ever teach you how to be unemployed? This is the third installment of an ongoing series of advice from people who have been there. This post was written by Mary Turner, member of LA Fellows Cohort 7 and currently the Program Assistant for LA Fellows.

When I came to LA Fellows, I knew I was in transition career-wise: I didn't want to go back to what I had been doing, but I wasn't sure where I wanted to go. I was randomly applying to jobs that seemed to use some of my skills, without really looking at the bigger picture of what the companies did or where they might lead my career, and I got zero response to the resumes I was sending out. I had no direction.

Two questions, designed to help people find their passion, that really changed my ideas about the focus of my job search were posed to to me in LA Fellows. The first was:

"Where are you the happiest?" Picture the scene. This could be anywhere, theoretical or practical, whether sitting on the beach listening to the surf on an unnamed tropical island, or tinkering with a short-wave radio kit with your kids. It's usually the first thing that comes to your mind when the question is asked. From there it's a matter of drilling down to what it is about that scenario that is the real source of joy. Being outdoors? Working with kids? Figuring out something technical? Can you transfer a kernel of whatever that is to your professional role?

The other question was:

"What makes you angry?" Anger is another form of passion. That thing that really gets us worked up could be a reason to look forward to going to work, if we can find a way to harness that passion in a productive way. Especially in the nonprofit sector, a lot of people find satisfaction in being part of the fight to solve an important problem. What gets you worked up, and is there a way to use that?

Once I was able to tap into my passion and connect it to a goal, the enthusiasm I was able to show in my job search increased exponentially. I started to formulate a vision not just of my next job, but of my career. With the guidance of the wonderful instructors of the LA Fellows program, I was able to formulate a marketing plan for product "Me." I was clearer on what skills to cultivate for future success, what knowledge to pursue, and how to build a network that supports both my long-term and my short-term goals.

Then one day it all clicked. Literally. In one twenty-four hour period I was offered not one, but two paid positions, and asked to take on an important volunteer project for a nonprofit that means a lot to me. After months of not getting anything, I had offers. I had a decision to make. I ultimately chose the job with the LA Fellows program because it aligned more closely with my goals and afforded me the chance to take that volunteer opportunity and continue volunteering on a regular basis. By having clarity and understanding what makes me happy, and why, I've been empowered to make informed, strategic decisions in my career, not just for this job, but for any that may come after it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

LA Fellows Goes Radio-Active

There's a radio show/podcast out of Pierce College on KPCRadio.com called "Volunteer in the Valley" which highlights interesting San Fernando Valley nonprofit organizations and their projects. Recently the host, Milo Anderson, invited LA Fellows to come and speak about our program due to the unique connection we have with the nonprofit community. LA Fellow Kristi Hazama, from Cohort 8, represented us and spoke about what we do.

Listen to it here: http://kpcradio.com/volunteer-in-the-valley-06-04-15-episode-20/

Monday, June 15, 2015

My Experience With LA Fellows by Jen Johnson, Cohort 11

This special guest post is from a recent graduate of the program, Jen Johnson. She volunteered to speak at one of our recent orientations to let prospective applicants know how the program can change lives. Jen agreed to let us post her story here.

Why I applied to LA Fellows
        I applied to LA Fellows because I was at an impasse career-wise.  I was burned out and a little lost. I had been pursuing acting during the day and waiting tables at night for about 7 years.  I was making great money and enjoying my life, for the most part.
         Then I had a milestone birthday. My friends and family began asking me what my long term plan was and when I was going to get a "real job."  I started to get really down on myself.
        I suddenly wanted something more out of my  work  life. One night at the restaurant, a gentleman at one of my tables ordered swordfish and he didn't get the tartar sauce that was supposed to come with it.  He went off on me.  He lost his temper and was yelling at me so loudly that other tables were staring, trying to figure out what the commotion was about.  As I stood there being berated by this stranger, I thought, "Wow.  With all the things in the world to get upset over, this guy chooses to become irate over some missing fish sauce. There are people starving to death, wars being fought, and this guy is directing pure rage towards me over a condiment. I need a new job."
              I was looking for contacts on LinkedIn one December afternoon when I saw the page for LA Fellows and decided to check it out.

What I gained from the experience
           I was reminded of the things I do well. One of the first exercises the Fellows were asked to do is list the things we were best at.  I stared at that blank page for quite a while. I couldn’t think of
one thing to write on that list.  It had been a long time since I had a job that I was passionate about, where my skills and talents were nurtured.  And an even longer time since I had a job where my natural abilities rose to the top.
         Over the course of the next 9 weeks, I heard a lot of the same sentiments from the Fellows in my cohort.  Comments were made about being burned out, not wanting to return to the same line of work they once belonged to, not being appreciated for what they had to offer.  I found myself countering their statements and giving them positive feedback. It got me out of myself and I finally remembered what it felt like to be confident and to contribute to the workplace dialogue. I remembered the things that made me ME at work.

The benefits of being in Cohort 11
        The instructors were great. Of course they expected us to be professional, but they created a space for us to be real. We didn't have to put on a brave face if we weren't feeling brave. A lot of times, we were frustrated, emotionally spent and lost. Allison, Mary and our instructors created a safe space for us to be heard and be honest.
        Without this crucial first step, I don't think the growth that occurred would have been possible.
        With the support of our Fellow members of Cohort 11, a sense of camaraderie grew.  Through the classroom instruction and dialogue, we got to know each other and were able to point out one another's strengths.  Talents long since forgotten about rose to the top, brought to our attention by our peers in Cohort 11.

Where I volunteered/ what I got out of the experience
        I volunteered at Therapeutic Living Centers for the Blind, or TLC for the Blind for short.  TLC for the Blind was started in 1975 by a group of families who had relatives living with being blind and/ or deaf, and some also had developmental disabilities.  The usual course of action for people with these circumstances was to be institutionalized. But a group of relatives got together and decided to create a better way for their loved ones to live- enabling them to create lives full of dignity and independence.
        I liked the idea of a group of people banding together to improve the lives of the people they loved.  They didn't wait for something to happen; they took action.  40 years later, TLC remains the only facility of its kind of the San Fernando Valley.   I thought, "This is the kind of place I'd like to spend 100 hours volunteering."
        My boss at TLC allowed me to work independently- which is something I value.  I didn't even know that about myself until LA Fellows. My boss also gave me the opportunity to write a grant. I applied for a grant to get a shade structure for the playground at TLC. It felt so empowering to have the opportunity to potentially affect the lives of hundreds of children, who wouldn't be able to play outside without the grant and a shade structure.
        I could not have had a better volunteer experience!

How LA Fellows helped me move forward
Jen (right) with her WorkSorce case manager,
Candis Noel from JVS in West Hollywood
          I also got a job out of the LA Fellows experience!  A week before speaking at this orientation, I was offered a position as a Grants Coordinator at a very well-known and respected nonprofit.  I will be writing reports to wealthy donors who have the capacity to help people who need it; people who may be in a similar position as I was in just 6 months ago. I'm sort of like Robin Hood!

          LA Fellows helped me redefine my sense of purpose in the world.  I couldn't have imagined that after 3 months as an LA Fellow, I would find a job, let alone one that incorporates so many of my passions and talents in a way that is going to help people who need it!  I cannot encourage you enough to apply to this program.  LA Fellows will not just change YOUR life- it will change the lives of individuals in your cohort, in your community- and beyond.

Friday, June 12, 2015

1000 Words: The Way to A Fellow's Heart...

It can be hard to describe to people what the LA Fellows experience is before they've lived it firsthand. Knowing that a picture is worth 1,000 words, here are a few to help you visualize what it's like to be an LA Fellow.

They say an army marches on its stomach. LA Fellows is a formidable army of dedicated professionals in search of their next career move, and that requires fortification. Just as offices everywhere bond over birthday cake, organizations inspire with celebratory lunches and deals take shape over appetizers at mixers, LA Fellows bond over food.  The training is rigorous, but worth it, and the Fellows exercise their social and professional skills by celebration. 

Learn more about the LA Fellows program at www.lafellows.org. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Three More Orientations - Find Out About & Apply to be an LA Fellow

We are very proud to have been invited back to conduct an information session for Cohort 12 of the LA Fellows at the JVS WorkSource location at the beautiful West Hollywood Library on June 26th at 10:30am. We have also added another on-campus orientation on July 10th at Los Angeles Valley College, home of the LA Fellows program, where we'll be answering questions and explaining the program to all interested job seekers and others. Go to www.lafellows.org/apply for all the details.

Job Seeker's Handbook: Don't Advertise What You're Not Selling

Education, family, the workplace, the Internet - there's a lot of information out there about how to be a good employee, but did anyone ever teach you how to be unemployed? This is another installment of an ongoing series of advice from people who have been there.

A resume when done properly is a marketing document, a story written to show a potential employer the triumphs and outstanding career feats that have brought you to the logical conclusion that the job you're applying for is the obvious next step for you and the solution to that company's problems.

Employers don't like to sift through the entirety of a person's years of experience trying to figure out how they might be a fit for their company. If you don't spell out clearly what you can - and want to! - do for them, they will pass you by.

Tip #2

Don't advertise what you're not selling.

Just because you do something well, and have been successful with it in the past, doesn't mean that you should highlight it in your resume. For example, if you worked in a call center but disliked the one-on-one customer service aspect, don't play up the customer compliment awards you received but do highlight how you streamlined a computer process or were lauded for the accuracy of your documentation. If you want to be seen for your managerial skills, don't talk about how the office counted on you to make coffee and fill the copier with paper, detail how you took on a project or organized a meeting. If your background is in show biz, but you want to make a change to a more office-oriented environment, think about how you can highlight the skills you gained in the context of the business world, and leave out the industry jargon.

If you're not sure whether your resume aligns with the types of jobs you aspire to, have someone who doesn't know you look at the resume and tell you what type of job they think you'd be applying for. You might be surprised to learn what pitch your marketing document is making.

Friday, June 5, 2015

1000 Words: Confidence is Key

It can be hard to describe to people what the LA Fellows experience is before they've lived it firsthand. Knowing that a picture is worth 1,000 words, here are a few to help you visualize what it's like to be an LA Fellow.

The LA Fellows are encouraged to step outside their comfort zone and try new things, whether it's social media, taking on a leadership role, public speaking, networking, or starting from scratch on their resume and rewriting it in a way they never considered. The basis for this is the idea that if what they had been doing up to this point was working, they would not be encountering the roadblocks that they find in their current job search. LA Fellows' instructors pull together the best practices available to job seekers right now, and give them a supportive space to test them out. 

Learn more about the LA Fellows program at www.lafellows.org. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

1000 Words: Fellowship

It can be hard to describe to people what the LA Fellows experience is before they've lived it firsthand. Knowing that a picture is worth 1,000 words, here are a few words to try to explain.

A group of professionals, all strangers to each other, come together for nine weeks of training. They come from diverse fields: entertainment, finance, information technology, education, law, customer service, transportation, hospitality, publishing. They come from all over the Los Angeles area, from different ethnicities, ages, education backgrounds. They seem to have little in common except for the circumstance of being unemployed. And yet...

Once the training begins, the Fellows find connections deeper than "what do you do for a living?" They find that they are all giving people who are willing to commit 100 hours to a nonprofit organization. They are committed to a cause, namely finding a job, and willing to do what it takes to complete that important mission. They are curious. They are open to new ideas, to learning how to do their job search better, and live better in the process. They are ultimately resilient. The discovery of their similarities bonds the Fellows. They find that in sharing what they know, diversity of experience is a unique advantage of this program.

The LA Fellows program works hard to nurture a supportive environment where participants can work on finding and removing the things that are getting in the way of finding that next job. Sometimes there are tears, sometimes there are difficult conversations, but there are also tissues, hugs and lots of "AHA moment" insight dispensed. Camaraderie is built and friendships are formed. Networking is about relationships and LA Fellows forge relationships that make them stronger individually and collectively.

Learn more about the LA Fellows program at www.lafellows.org. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Job Seeker's Handbook: Don't Wait!

Education, family, the workplace, the Internet - there's a lot of information out there about how to be a good employee, but did anyone ever teach you how to be unemployed? This is the first installment of an ongoing series of advice from people who have been there.

When a job comes to an end, it can be easy to find yourself stunned and dazed. Looking at a buyout offer, a severance check or an unemployment award letter can take the pressure off, giving you a chance to breathe and a few months before paying the bills will be a problem. Some people use it as an opportunity to take time off.

Tip #1: Don't wait. 

Yes, by all means, take a short breather if you need to, a week or two, think about what your next step might be, and work through the emotions associated with whatever happened to bring your career to a temporary halt. But be careful of taking too long, and extending that time beyond what you should.

  • It will take time to land another job. Employers, mindful of the cost of a poor hiring decision, are taking longer to make decisions than they have historically. There are often multiple rounds of interviews, tests and even assignments. In the same time that you spent interviewing with 5 or 6 companies in the past, you may be lucky to interview with 1 or 2. 
  • You risk creating a gap on your resume that gets more difficult to explain as it expands. Job interviews can be nerve-wracking under the best of circumstances - why make it harder?
  • Employers want workers who have their head in the game and are ready to jump in with both feet. If you're in the groove of scheduling meetings (interviews), getting reports (resumes) out on time, drumming up business (job leads) and treating the hours of 9-to-5 like business hours, you're more likely to present yourself as someone who can make a smooth transition than someone who's gotten used to sleeping late and watching TV until noon.
  • In our culture we tend to define ourselves by our jobs, so the further we get away from doing that activity on a regular basis, the less confident we feel and act. Put yourself in the employer's shoes: would you want to hire someone who's unsure of themselves, or someone who presents confidence that they can get the job done? The more connected you are with the memory of yourself as a working professional, the easier it will be to sell yourself as one.
  • The longer you wait to ask friends and family for help, the harder it is. Yes, pride will be a factor. How many job seekers have heard that awful line, "You still haven't found a job?" or some form of it! Your network will also need time to understand what you're looking for (yes, not everyone understands what you do, even when it seems like it should be perfectly obvious), and to get feedback from their network.
  • If you're tapping in to government resources, like unemployment payments or state-sponsored training, that takes time too. You may run into unexpected delays due to paperwork that's required, or you may miss the start of classes by putting off investigating your options, for example. Contact your local EDD or WorkSource center as soon as you know you're looking for a job (even if you're still employed) so that you will know what's available to you and what's required.
Instructors in the LA Fellows program will assign "action steps" to help the participants keep momentum. In our experience, the LA Fellows who land fastest are the ones who jump on the job search the fastest, try everything they know to do, are open to learning. Getting employed takes time. Start now, treat your job search like a job, and be prepared to put in a full week of search related tasks and activities every week. And don't wait.