A house fire that destroys half of your belongings five days after you lose the only job you have … This was the scenario faced by one student at the graduation for Bridges to Careers, a program of CareerEdge. She detailed the anxiety, the hotel stay that was no vacation, the struggle to focus and the hopelessness setting in when she came to Bridges in need of a job.
While her story was dramatic, every one of the 13 graduates had his or her own version of overcoming struggle to seek sustainable employment.
The graduation for Bridges to Careers, a job-readiness program of CareerEdge, featured Representative Darryl Rouson of the Florida House’s 70th District.
He told the story of how at one of his first big appearances during the campaign for his seat in 2008, his opponent stood up and listed everything he had done wrong in his past. An aspiring politician, an unconventional past described in maximum negative detail and a room full of high powered business leaders “most of whom did not look like me” as Rouson recalls with a smile. To most people, it seems like a recipe for humiliation.
What Rep. Rouson did next made all the difference … “Everything my opponent just said is true” he began that day and made the point both then and at the graduation that people can be defined more by their future than their past.
Rep. Rouson shared his experience to drive home the point that “it does not matter as much what you did, it’s what you’re going to do next. How are you going to take what you’ve learned and use it? How are you going to help make this community a better place?”
In their speeches, the Bridges to Careers graduates thanked everyone involved in the CareerEdge program and demonstrated this idea that what happens next can make all the difference.
Jessica Ruter of Suncoast Community Capital, an organization that manages Bridges to Careers for CareerEdge explained the program in these terms: “13 people spent four weeks learning the specific skills it takes get a job – interviewing, resume building, computer skills, and professionalism. What they gained in the process was confidence, a positive attitude and a new support network.”
“What sets Bridges to Careers apart is the dual emphasis on what employers need and what employees can gain,” explained program creator and funder Mireya Eavey of CareerEdge. “For Bridges to Careers, CareerEdge and its partners research and adapt to what our regional employers need in their entry-level workforce so that we can properly train the unemployed to fill those jobs.”
Bridges students complete the Florida Ready-to-Work test, which measures math, reading and locating information skills. Modeled on the national Work Keys test, it helps take the guesswork out of determining which job seekers have the skills to succeed in the workplace.
Several graduates from this class were not present at the graduation ceremony having already found jobs and begun working. The rest are planning to go back to school, will start their jobs in the coming week or have interviews and leads lined up to accelerate their job search efforts. As one graduate put it “I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m no longer stuck in the place I was.”
For more information about the next Bridges to Careers Program, please contact: Jessica Ruter at Suncoast Community Capital 941-744-2666 ext 2.