KRA/VIEW Convenes Career Symposium

Recently, the KRA Corporation workforce services program in Norfolk…Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare (VIEW)… provided 42 jobseeker-customers with much-needed information and guidance on accessing community resources and opportunities.   The Career  Symposium…which took 2 months of thoughtful planning and execution by Ninette Adams and Gina Tanks, KRA/VIEW Employment Specialists…featured notable local experts who shared their valuable knowledge with jobseekers from KRA/VIEW and two community workforce-development partners, Goodwill Industries and Up Center Books.  These individuals attended the Symposium because they are dedicated to becoming self sufficient through education, training, and sustainable employment.

Based on individual knowledge and expertise, each speaker addressed one or more of six topics, related to potential barriers to successful employment.  1) What is Your Career Strategy? Focus on planning for career success and satisfaction; 2) What is Your Plan A and Plan B? Explore your options and preferences through introspection, formal and informal interviews, and participation in career-related activities; 3) What Are Your Skills Gaps? Identify your individual career weaknesses, and make a plan(s) to address them; 4) What Job Do You Want?  Set employment goals that are truly realistic and attainable.  5) Are You Networking? Off- and on-line…attend conferences, volunteer to make presentations, set up an online presence with LinkedIn or other job-opportunity sites; and 6) Interviewing for Wanted Positions.  Prepare for each interview, as no two will be the same.  Know your potential employer, the department you’re applying for, and what questions the interviewer can…and cannot ask.

Linda Bryant, Deputy Commonwealth Attorney and Director of the Community Collaboration Center (CCC), presented information on resources available to customers dealing with criminal backgrounds.  With 15+ years’ prosecutorial experience in Norfolk, Ms. Bryant has the unique perspective necessary to carry out the work of the CCC, an important extension of the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney.  Located just outside downtown Norfolk in a satellite office at the Workforce Development Center, the CCC increases accessibility for those in need of assistance with criminal-justice issues.  Ms. Bryant discussed criminal-record expungement requirements, Federal bonding, domestic violence prevention, and the importance of good decision-making regarding school-age children, as a crime-prevention strategy.

Douglas Taylor, Employment and Training Case Manager for the Father Initiative of Up Center Books, provided information on Up Center’s unique workforce development program, which provides 4 months of transitional employment, workforce-readiness training, comprehensive support services, and employment services for hard-to-employ adults. Up Center sells used-books and dedicates 100 percent of its sales to supports the job-training program, through which participants gain valuable skills to help them compete in today’s job market. 

In his presentation, Eric Styles, Educational Services Counselor, Educational Opportunity Center of the Virginia Tidewater Consortium (VTC), encouraged the participants to, first, set realistic, obtainable career goals, and then to use all available resources to reach those goals.  The VTC develops and shares ideas, information, programs, and other resources to achieve its goals, which include promoting cooperation and collaboration, among member institutions, to serve the people of the Tidewater region through higher education and related services.

Vanessa Golson, Workforce Job Services Interviewer, Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), shared the policies, procedures, and programs of the VEC’s Business and Economic Development Team, which educates employers on the recruiting resources available through the Virginia Workforce Connection. This network helps employers find cost-effective, time-efficient ways to recruit the qualified employees they need for their businesses.  The VEC has created many online options to enhance services and to provide convenient solutions for Virginia’s employers and workforce.

Abby Balderson, Manger of Local Accounts, Chesapeake DeVry University & Keller Center for Corporate Learning, provided information on local industries that might match the career interests of some of the participants.  Through literature and a lively, interactive Q-&-A session, she shared “how to” tips on delivering effective “elevator speeches”, time management, and choosing a career, to name a few.

Katherine Robinson, R.N., Health Horizons Home Care, shared valuable, useful information on home-health care training and possible employment as a Personal Care Assistant.  Health Horizons has been one of Hampton Roads’ most referred home-health care providers since 1997, and a valued KRA/VIEW training and employment partner for the past 5 years.