Carnegie officials bring career counseling to borough
They come needing help finding work.
It could be that they need assistance updating their resume or maneuvering today’s job market. Some have more critical needs: The lack of work has left them in need of food and clothes, just to get by.
The Squirrel Hill-based nonprofit Jewish Family and Community Services’ Career Development Center’s WorkAble program, funded by the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, seeks to meet those needs.
The goal is that each person leaves empowered.
“It’s to equip them,” said Jeanne Williams, career consultant.
Roughly a year ago, the program began offering career counseling from the Carnegie Borough Building.
Career counselors already visited various locations in the north, south and east of Pittsburgh.
Williams saw a need to add the services in the west.
Representatives from the nonprofit met with Carnegie leaders at the time, who Williams describes as being “so supportive” of the efforts.
Starting in July 2018, Williams began offering career counseling from a conference room in the borough building every other Friday. Her hours are flexible to meet the needs of those seeking support.
Since that start, the program has assisted 19 new clients in its Carnegie location and placed four of those into jobs. It’s assisted people in their late 30s to those still working in their 60s.
Clients run the gamut from professional jobs to work in manufacturing.
Williams especially likes helping veterans who have served their country. Now, she gets to serve them, she said.
“The whole premise of WorkAble is exactly what the title is: Work with those who are able and willing to work right now,” Williams said. “It could be underemployed, those who just want a new trajectory for their career. We provide career counseling and employment mentoring.”
The program is free to those who meet the financial qualifications, which is roughly 95 percent of those who seek assistance. The Carnegie location is not limited to residents living in Carnegie.
“What differentiates us as career counselors under JFCS is that we listen,” Williams said. “It’s not a cookie cutter, ‘OK, here’s your resume. Have a great day.’ But we truly listen.”
That could mean connecting people with critical care services through the nonprofit’s Squirrel Hill offices if they need assistance with food or clothing, Williams said.
The career counseling includes interest assessments for people who might be looking to change career paths, guidance on resumes and cover letters and how to complete an online application, which someone who has been in a job for a long time might not get.
There’s also networking and workshops that are provided.
Clients often get career counseling every other week for about six months, until they’re “equipped to run this race” on their own, Williams said.
Each person needs a personal plan, said Iris Valanti, public relations associate.
With the change in careers today, people who have had jobs for many years need updated when heading back into the job market, Valanti said. This program offers that.
In the north, south and east, JFCS partners with other organizations to offer the career counseling, including North Hills Community Outreach, South Hills Interfaith Movement and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
In Carnegie, there’s no organization the nonprofit has partnered with to offer the career counseling. It’s the borough that has stepped up, where leaders have been welcoming of the program, Williams said.
“Everybody wants the best for Carnegie,” she said.