Tag Archives: networking

Building a New Life

30 Apr

Prior to the fall of 2012, Carol Jackson had expected to live her entire life on the island of St. Croix U.S. Virgin Islands. After fourteen years of service as an Office Professional at a local oil refinery, she unexpectedly learned she was being laid off. With the closing of the refinery, Carol was among 2,500 Cruzans – roughly 5% of the overall population of the island – suddenly looking for work.

“The job market wasn’t as plentiful now that the major private employer [had] closed,” Carol says. “So I decided it was time to move on.”

With family already in the area, the Jackson family – Carol, her husband and their three children – relocated to Austin in an effort to build a new life for themselves. Upon moving to Austin, Carol was introduced to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and began working with Jennifer Dominguez, a Career Counselor with the Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s SNAP Employment & Training program.

The SNAP E&T program includes job search assistance, professional workshops and volunteering in the community. Initially, Carol wondered why she had to do all of these things. She had worked in a professional setting for a long time and was already searching and applying for jobs. What was the big deal?

However, as she progressed in the program, Carol realized the value of the components and was able to utilize the tricks and tips she learned.  In addition, volunteering at the Blood & Tissue Center of Central Texas provided Carol with a way to immediately give back to her new community AND to network.

“Volunteering is an essential key to job searching,” says Carol. “Other than contributing your valuable time to society and getting that ‘feel good’ buzz, it allowed me to meet people. I learned more about Austin, other places to volunteer and key employers, all through networking.”

Within four months of moving to Austin, Carol was hired as an Administrative Assistant with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.  However, her journey does not end there. After evaluating local employment needs and trends, Carol decided to continue her education and is currently taking classes in Grant Writing and Business for Social Media.

“For those of you that are newly unemployed, my advice is to get on the ball right away on your mission to find the next opportunity,” Carol says. “It may take a few interviews to get where you want to be but a ‘Yes’ is right around the corner and just a few interviews away!”

On working with Carol, Jennifer Dominguez adds “I am grateful for the opportunity I was afforded to provide support to a customer whose professional outlook on life is positive and inspiring.”

About the SNAP E&T Program

SNAP E&T is a no-cost employment program designed to give SNAP (food stamp) recipients the assistance and support they need to find a job. Based on available funding, SNAP E&T can provide:

  • Job search assistance including job referrals
  • Support services such as transportation assistance, crisis and work-related expenses
  • Job skills assessment
  • Career counseling and planning
  • Training in basic and occupational skills
  • Work experience
  • Referrals to other community services

The SNAP E&T program is only available to SNAP (food stamp) recipients. Eligibility for SNAP is determined by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).  For more information about the SNAP (food stamp) program including eligibility requirements and how you can apply, please visit http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/help/Food/snap.shtml.

If you are a current SNAP (food stamp) recipient and want to learn more about SNAP E&T, please visit www.wfscapitalarea.com.


Workforce Solutions Capital Area is an equal opportunity employer. Auxiliary aids and services are available, upon request, to persons with disabilities. Relay Texas: 800.735.2989 (TDD) / 711 (Voice).

Tired of Waiting

19 Mar

Doug Makey - PhotoWhen Doug Makey was laid off from his job as a welder last year, the navy veteran had officially had enough. Despite years of – very physically demanding – experience, welding work lacked the stability and professional track Doug desired. He decided it was time for a change.

“I would work for a while and get laid off,” says Doug. “I got tired of losing my job.”

While receiving unemployment insurance benefits, Doug enrolled in the Rapid Employment Model (REM) training program with Workforce Solutions Capital Area. With an unstable work history and two misdemeanor convictions, Doug had additional barriers to employment but no less potential and drive to succeed.

Understanding there is a high demand for truck drivers, Doug enrolled in the Austin Community College’s Continuing Education Commercial Vehicle Operator Training Program. He obtained his Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in August 2012 and found employment within one month.

Unfortunately, that position was not a good fit and Doug returned to his job search. Rather than get discouraged, he kept a level head and positive attitude. Doug met with his career counselor Leah Campbell weekly to discuss his job search and applied for several jobs.

“Leah led me in the right direction,” says Doug. “She was always there and kept me moving.”

In addition to a traditional job search, Doug began to network. This skill and the confidence he had gained led directly to employment.

While stopped at a local gas station for a soda one afternoon, Doug noticed several trucks drive by and asked the clerk behind the counter if he knew where they were all going. To his surprise, the clerk informed him there was a plant not far away. Doug proceeded to park his car on the side of the road and start waving down truckers as they drove by. He told them he had his CDL and asked if they had any advice for him. This bold move led to the name and phone number of a hiring manager. A brief phone conversation with the manager led to a face-to-face interview, and Doug was hired on the spot!

“Doug worked very hard to be where he is today, and I’m honored to have been part of his journey” says Leah Campbell, Career Counselor for Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “He is truly an inspiration.”

“It’s easy to fall into a rut,” says Doug. “Don’t give up and just keep trying. Don’t get discouraged.  A lot of people think they can’t do it and then don’t try. You have to try.”

About REM

The Rapid Employment Model (REM) provides Travis County workers with the opportunity to gain in-demand skills and enter the workforce in a short amount of time.

The aim of the program is to equip participants with in-demand skills so they may enter the workforce in a short amount of time, earn higher wages and work towards self-sufficiency. The program provides short-term vocational training in targeted fields for eligible participants. Trainings are between two and eight weeks in length. In addition to training, this rigorous program provides participants assistance with job search and placement. A major component of the program is job retention. Thus, there are built-in incentives for training attendance and job retention.

For more information about the program and eligibility, please visit www.wfscapitalarea.com.


Workforce Solutions Capital Area is an equal opportunity employer. Auxiliary aids and services are available, upon request, to persons with disabilities. Relay Texas: 800.735.2989 (TDD) / 711 (Voice).