“Each woman’s situation is different,” shares Teisa Taylor, YWCA’s Education and Employment Coordinator. “To empower those who come through our doors, we must meet them where they are and provide them the tools they need to succeed.”
In Taylor’s role at the YWCA, she works with hundreds of women each year to provide the supportive services they need. In 2012 alone, Taylor coordinated 345 educational classes for 1,511 participants. These classes cover a variety of topics designed to meet the participants’ needs. But Taylor’s favorite class isn’t the parenting class or the spiritual reflection- it’s the weeklong “Steps to Success.”
“Steps to Success” is an intensive hands-on job readiness course offered to women participating in YWCA housing programs. Offered semi-monthly, “Steps to Success” is designed to prepare women to enter or re-enter the job market while bolstering their self-confidence and self-esteem.
During the week, the women build their resume, and for many in the program this is the first time they have ever put together a resume. The course covers the basics like the importance of a handshake, smile, and good eye contact; and the details like transportation needs, and childcare. They discuss how an individual’s attitudes, behaviors, and time management will affect others in the work place. The women spend time working on interview preparations, discussing appropriate interview attire and considering possible interview questions.
But Taylor most enjoys the opportunity to go beyond the basics: “It’s a time to ask ‘What is your passion? What do you enjoy doing?’” Taylor says. “Many of the women have never taken the opportunity to consider a ‘career’ before, so it’s a new idea to look for something that will make you happy.”
For the women who participate in “Steps to Success,” finding stable employment is one of their top goals. To ensure the participants are ready for the job hunt, the week concludes with mock interviews at a local college where they get some additional one on one time with their resumes.
“I’m so glad I took ‘Steps to Success’,” shares K, a former participant. “I was able to get my job [at a local bank] because I understood the handshake and the interview- things we went through in Steps!”
For Taylor, that’s the point: “that’s my reward,” Taylor shares. “Hearing the women say they got jobs because we helped them.”