Navigating the Sea of Unemployment

2 Feb

The Watters - PhotoIn 2014, Natalie and Jason “J.J.” Watters found themselves in the same boat: they were both unemployed at the same time. The couple was determined to keep their heads above water even though they faced significant challenges such as debt and taking care of their two young children, so they dove head first into the CHOICES Program at Workforce Solutions Capital Area.

According to their CHOICES case manager LaShaila Mitchum, the Watters went to the Workforce Solutions North Center at 7:45 a.m. every day for four weeks, where they participated in job readiness classes and searched for jobs. The Watters were “beacons of positivity,” said Ms. Mitchum, and they offered support and words of encouragement to other CHOICES participants.

Mrs. Watters said the family appreciated the classes that taught them how to interview for jobs, fill out job applications and write their resumes.

Mrs. Watters said the most challenging aspect of the couple’s job search was that many employers were slow to respond to online job applications. “There was no face-to-face contact. You have to be persistent. It’s as if you are one fish in a big sea,” she said. “You want the companies to see what you bring to the table, but without personally meeting recruiters, you’re just a piece of paper, just a resume.”

Mrs. Watters also said the on-site hiring events at Workforce Solutions’ career centers were invaluable. Mr. Watters received a notification through his WorkInTexas.com account about a UPS job fair, and he spoke face-to-face with a recruiter at the hiring event. That day, Mr. Watters filled out his application on a computer at the career center. He interviewed for a temporary truck loader position at UPS the next day, and he received a job offer on the spot. “The recruiter at the hiring event went through the whole hiring process,” Mrs. Watters said. “She left nothing uncertain.” Mr. Watters was a temporary worker until January 15, when he accepted a full-time truck loader position at UPS.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Watters, who has worked in the childcare industry for more than a decade, accepted a job offer as a curriculum coordinator and after-school and summer camp director at a children’s learning center. Her new schedule is conducive to her family; her daughter attends day care at the children’s learning center, and her son’s school is nearby.

“The Watters have truly set the standard for clients who are facing many obstacles and still manage to exceed program requirements,” said Ms. Mitchum. “Mr. Watters worked from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. and would still come to the center and is constantly praised for his work ethic. Mrs. Watters is the epitome of a family’s backbone. I have seen her in so many instances encourage other CHOICES clients to keep up the fight in efforts to provide a good-quality of life for their families as well as provide them with community resources.”

About the Choices Program

For individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Workforce Solutions Capital Area offers one-on-one job search assistance and support services through the Choices program.  Choices is a no-cost employment program designed to give TANF recipients the assistance and support they need to find a job. Specifically, Choices can provide:

  • Job search assistance
  • Child care
  • Transportation assistance
  • Work-related expenses
  • Referrals to other community services

Eligibility for the Choices program and TANF is determined by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). For more information about eligibility requirements, please visit http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/Help/Financial/temporary-assistance.shtml.

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