Celebrating Labor Day made it a short work week for many of us, but for some people just having a job is worth celebrating. Tiffany Little, A-SPAN’s Employment Case Manager, joined the team in May and has since helped 17 people achieve employment.
Where were you before you joined A-SPAN?
I was living in Virginia Beach and attending Norfolk State University working on my Masters in Urban Education Community Counseling. I was also working at a furniture store. I have also been an employment specialist for a federal halfway house and enjoyed the work. When I saw the opening at A-SPAN, I took a chance and then moved back here. I am originally from Alexandria so I was okay with coming back home.
How many clients have you worked with?
Since starting here in May, I have done intakes with about 30 clients. Of those, 17 have been employed. It’s a total mix of jobs. I have gotten people jobs as receptionists, at a doggy-daycare, at restaurants, one at U-Haul, and some customer service jobs. Many of these are entry-level jobs. Only a few of them require previous experience.
What do you do to help people apply for a job and then maintain that job?
I help with résumés in the beginning and create one for clients if they don’t have one. I give them a basic worksheet to start listing work history and skills and then I’ll create the résumé from that. I also help them post the résumés online at Washington Post, or SimplyHired, or CareerBuilder.
I also help clients with shower vouchers, with toiletries, and getting clothes for interviews. I arrange for $40 vouchers from Goodwill so the clients can shop for themselves. I get commuter cards so people can get to and from work. They especially need those while on the job search.
A-SPAN requires a 60-day follow up aftercare when a client wants help to get a job. After getting hired, I’ll still be calling them to make sure they can get to and from work and that they have the proper hygiene. If they are living on the streets, I try to get them shelter space in one of the local shelters like Bailey’s or RPC. Most of the 17 clients who I have helped are currently housed or in shelters but a couple are still on the street.
How important would you say having a cell phone is when looking for a job?
I would say it’s very important to have some means of communications. I will let them use my phone number if they don’t have a phone. I also introduce them to our general case manager, Angelica, so she can help them apply for a free phone. They also need to have an email address. A handful of people I work with didn’t have email addresses so I helped them set up an account. For a few, I have helped them create a more professional looking email address. Having the means to communicate is very important.
What do you like about this job?
I love my coworkers. They make it so much easier to come to work and learn about the employment community here. Once I help a client with a job and he or she has stable income, my coworkers help me get the clients closer to housing.
My first client, my first week here, got a job and was either on the streets or staying in hostels. He didn’t want to stay at a shelter. Doing the aftercare, it was difficult to keep in touch with him to make sure he was clean and had everything he needed. That was certainly a test for me. He is still employed and is moving toward housing. It’s been difficult but my HPRP coworker, the “Gatewooder,” really helps.
It’s fun work and it’s hard work. When I get the call or somebody walks in and says “Tiffany, I got the job!” that’s the best moment and I’ve had 17 of those so far. Another thing that puts icing on my cake is when I see the persistence of the client who wants to work with me, who wants to work. That’s a great feeling – to help someone who wants to be helped. A lot of the jobs my clients are going to get are entry-level which may not be what they want, but it’s also easier to get a better job if you have a job. So for my people who are humble and willing to work hard, we can work toward a better place.
Did you know…?
Have a job opening and willing to give someone a chance? Tiffany would love to hear from you! There is also a federal program called the Work Opportunity Tax Credit which can benefit employers up to $4,000 if they hire people who have been out of work and help them stay employed for more than a year. Learn more about the tax credit here: http://www.doleta.gov/business/incentives/opptax/
Contact Tiffany Little firstname.lastname@example.org