Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. For Jovanda Martin, they arrived in the form of Workforce Development training at Goodwill of North Georgia’s Pleasant Hill career center. Martin hails from New Orleans, Louisiana, and was a dislocated worker following hurricane Katrina. With no college education, as well as a cognitive and a physical disability, she was having a difficult time finding a job.
She came to Georgia to live near her sister and her sister’s three children. Comfortably living on Social Security disability benefits, Martin became restless and interested in doing more with her life. “She wanted to be productive again,” says Dominic Carden, employment specialist at Goodwill. “She saw that she was capable of so much more than people assume.”
While enrolled in training, Martin sharpened her interviewing skills and learned how to work well with other people. She honed customer service skills by providing hands-on assistance to fellow job seekers in the career center. “Goodwill is a good place to start looking for a job. They have so much training and a job coach to help you,” she says.
As her training came to an end Martin applied for a job with YSS Athletics, a professional manufacturing facility specializing in athletic uniforms and apparel. She got the job and was hired as a production associate. She is responsible for quality assurance inspections of manufactured clothing, as well as order placing and maintenance of the company’s files. “I love it here – it’s a good environment,” Martin says. “Goodwill was really a blessing for me. [The training program] helped me get on my feet.” She is happy with her job and proud to come home with a sense of purpose.
Eager to inspire others to find their independence and realize their potential, Martin pays it forward by staying connected with the Pleasant Hill career center and sharing her success with new program participants. “I am very proud of Jovanda’s humility, attitude and persistence, as most people would have given way to anger, doubt and expectation,” Carden says. “She is truly an inspiring individual.”
While serving for four years in the Air Force as an Aircrew Life Support Specialist, Curtis Sigur was responsible for ensuring that all flight and safety equipment was in perfect working order before departure. “I was in charge of inspecting survival equipment on the planes,” he says. From packing emergency items to inspecting survival kits, the attention to detail provided by Sigur protected and helped many members of the Air Force.
Sigur’s interest in joining the Air Force came when he was 18 years old. “I’ve had relatives serve including my dad who served in the Army and I had a friend who was in the Air Force. The Air Force just seemed interesting to me,” he says. Through his time serving, Sigur received the Kuwait Liberation Medal for participating in Operation Desert Storm. A prestigious honor, the medal recognizes service during the liberation of Kuwait. In addition to the medal, Sigur also received an Outstanding Achievement medal for his hard work and leadership.
Upon returning from duty, Sigur came across the Smyrna Career Center on his way into the store. “I was just walking into the store to look for some vintage items and noticed the sign for the career center and everyone looked friendly inside, so I walked in,” he says. After speaking with the career center facilitators, Sigur was referred to the First Choice Veterans Program.
Sigur’s desire for helping others shined through his time spent at the career center. With a background and passion for information technology, Sigur assisted visitors at the career center with logging in, building their résumés and searching for job postings online. “Being a part of the program really brought out my skillsets and allowed me to help others look for employment,” he says.
Today, Sigur continues to help people. As a Corporate Trainer for Coca-Cola, he helps associates grow and expand their knowledge. Through the process of onboarding employees, training employees on machinery and updating and presenting procedures, Sigur has been a valuable contribution to the Atlanta-based company for nearly a year.
With hopes to inspire other veterans returning for work Sigur says, “Goodwill is a good place for a veteran to go. It’s good to know there’s an organization like Goodwill to help you and respect you for serving your country. It was a very positive experience for me.”
This week’s job tip on The Good Works Show came from Summer Dunham, Director of Public Relations at Goodwill of North Georgia. From turning her childhood interests into a career, she provided a job tip that has helped her build a career while doing what she is passionate about.
“Think about something that you like, and find a way to do it as a job,” she said. “When I was little, I liked talking to anybody that would listen. I looked at careers that involved talking to people, and here I am doing public relations in the great state of Georgia, for an organization with a mission I really believe in. Think of what you like, and find a way to get paid for it.”
To listen to the full show, click here and don’t forget to tune in at noon on Saturday for a new episode of The Good Works Show!
Deborah Howell’s dedication to working hard began when she landed her first job at only 15 years of age. She was interested in technology, which led to a career in the electronics industry. “I like working in electronics because I like to see a product out in the world and think, ‘I worked on that. I did that,’” she says. However, due to rapid changes in technology, Howell’s position with that company was eliminated and after more than 20 years of employment and she found herself looking for work.
Though her career was changing, her passion for technology remained constant. Howell knew she needed appropriate credentials if she wanted to continue advancing her career. With no college degree, Howell looked to Goodwill to assist in her career development. In 2014 she was one of the participants in the first soldering program ever offered at Goodwill of North Georgia.
While enrolled in the program Howell received hands-on soldering training. She also learned how to build a résumé and how to prepare for an interview. “The training and certification from Goodwill helped me get the job I have today and has allowed me to stand out,” she says.
For two years now, Howell has worked as an Electronic Assembler for L3 Technologies. Not only is she an assembler, but she is also an advocate for Goodwill’s mission. “When I started at L3 Technologies, they wanted to know where I got my training,” she says. “I told them Goodwill and since then five additional Goodwill program graduates have started their careers here.”
Howell is a true testament to the Goodwill mission. “Whenever I hear that people are cleaning out their closet, I tell them to go to Goodwill,” she says. “I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for Goodwill.”
In her role evaluating worthy organizations for Philanthropitch, Chelsea Manning has worked with nonprofit leaders from all over the country. In addition to funding ideas that are making a difference, the Philanthropitch program loves to support organizations with innovative and forward-thinking leaders. She also looks for a little humility from these leaders.
“Honesty and transparency are what we look for when we are talking to nonprofit leaders—someone who can honestly say ‘We don’t quite know what we are doing in this area, so we know we need help here, but we know we have a really good idea.’”
So as a leader, why are honesty and transparency so important?
1. Honesty and transparency creates trust. Employees want to know they are in the loop, and aren’t being kept in the dark. This trust helps promote a sense of stability in the workplace, and ultimately encourages loyalty among the staff.
2. Teamwork is enhanced. Transparency and honesty allows for leaders and staff members alike to show and discuss their strengths, demonstrating how each can best contribute to the work.
3. Problems are solved more quickly. Lack of honesty and transparency often causes a communication breakdown or barrier. When leaders and staff are encouraged to talk about what they need, they become better able to resolve any issues that arise within a project or the workplace.
4. Creativity thrives. An open and honest workplace lets employees feel supported to do their best work, and allows them to be more engaged.
5. Respect is earned. Honesty and transparency keeps leaders authentic. Employees can respect a boss that can both lead by example, and also be willing to admit that they don’t have all the answers.
“Résumés. It’s really important to make sure your résumé is up-to-date and has the current information – including your valid email address – so that employers are able to contact you in the event they are interested in looking at you for potential employment. So please, please, please make sure that your résumés are up-to-date.”
– Heather Morrison, lead facilitator at Goodwill of North Georgia’s East Athens career center
For more job tips like Heather’s, tune in weekly to The Good Works Show or check out the podcasts at https://soundcloud.com/thegoodworksshow/northern-star-cobb-works-032616.
Rosita Aranad faced challenges assimilating into a new culture after immigrating to the U.S. The single mother of two had to overcome language barriers, learn new customs and find a way to provide for her family without the equivalent of an American G.E.D.
Goodwill’s Youth Employment Services (Y.E.S.) program helped Aranad find her way back into the public school system to complete her secondary education and helped her with the transition to college. “The Y.E.S. program helped me with gas money and a part-time job,” she says. “But that was high school. Goodwill helped me go back to college and get a certificate so I can work in the medical field — that was my dream job.”
Now employed as a full-time Spanish/English translator at a medical office in Gainesville, Aranad is glad to be a provider and role model for her family.
Good Works Show guest Mandy Williams, founder and executive director of Northern Star Independent Transitional Living, offers listeners a leadership tip for finding a job they love. “Follow your dreams,” she says. “If you are passionate about something, stick with it. Ask for help. Learn all you can.”
What if you know what you like, but aren’t sure of your passion? Here are some tips to pinpoint your dream job:
Think about who you admire. Professionals, family members, community leaders. What are they doing? Maybe you admire them because they are doing what you want to do. And, if their path doesn’t exactly align with your wants, you can at least look to them for advice on how they got to where they are.
Evaluate what you spend your time on outside of work. What you do after the 9-5 is often the most important to you. Can you turn that into a job or career?
Forget the money. Sure, paying the bills is important. Passion work, though, is about what you would do if money was no object. Try to leave the money part out of the initial search for the right path.
Make a list of deal breakers. What don’t you want to do? What is a work environment that you couldn’t handle? Sometimes gauging what you don’t like will lead you to something you do.
Do your research. Read biographies of established leaders and learn how they got to their position. Check out professional development books like What Color is Your Parachute? Peruse career and lifestyle websites like Levo League (www.levo.com) and Clarity on Fire (www.clarityonfire.com).
We’re hoping to put a spring in the step of youth ages 16 to 24 looking for their first job or a new one. Here’s a look at youth-focused job fairs and employment workshops at Goodwill career centers throughout North Georgia this Spring.
For more information on career center events for all job seekers (youth and older) check out our career center calendars. With 11 local centers that are free and open to the public, Goodwill career centers are great resources for taking the next step in your career.