Participant Highlight: Rizel Bobb-Semple

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At just 21 years old, Rizel Bobb-Semple has already attained various postsecondary credentials, worked in healthcare and IT, is currently working toward an Associate’s degree in Computer Information Systems at Bunker Hill Community College, and is starting an exciting internship at HubSpot this spring!

She attributes many of her accomplishments to the training and postsecondary programs she participated in, like Hack.Diversity, of which SkillWorks is a proud supporter. And her connection with SkillWorks doesn’t stop there, having also participated in other funded programs in healthcare and IT – showing that she’s in the driver’s seat of her education, purposefully taking advantage of opportunities to learn about, explore, and enter into the career pathway that’s right for her.

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The 5 Truths of Career Success

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Remaining relevant in a changing economy

Earlier this month, we fortunate enough to have Kris Stadelman, Director of NOVA Workforce Board on our panel of experts at the Second Greater Boston IT/Tech Forum, and prior to that, her colleague Luther Jackson joined us for our First Greater Boston IT/Tech Forum. Kris, Luther and the NOVA team have become valuable thought partners as we examine ways to implement innovations and best practices to address the needs of employers and workers within our communities. Some key learnings that have already been influential for the Greater Boston IT/Tech Consortium come from NOVA’s TechLadder Initiative, including the 5 Truths of Career Success.

Below is an excerpt from Bay Area Tech Career Advancement Initiative Final Report released in April, 2015 by NOVA workforce investment board.

Getting a job is only part of the battle. Economic sustainability requires a career focus and the ability to continually grow and adapt to new technological and economic challenges. Successful tech workers must have career navigation skills. In its April 2014 report, Bridge to Career Success, TechLadder identified five key factors for career success that extend beyond technical skill proficiency. These “5 Truths of Career Success” (detailed below) are building blocks for developing personal leadership, entrepreneurism, confidence and self-efficacy, the traits that tech employers value.

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What does it take to get a middle skill job?

What does it take to get a middle skill job? The stories below illustrate the power of a little bit of help strategically focused on the transition into college-level course work. Both Allen and Jennifer participated in the JVS Pre-College Program, funded by SkillWorks, which helped them overcome a significant barrier to attaining postsecondary credentials.

Allen Guerrero

Twelve years out of high school, Allen Guerrero wanted to go back to school to become a medical coder.  Unfortunately, although he tried, Allen was not able to pass the mathematics portion of the college placement test and was therefore unable to take the courses that he needed to pursue his career path.

Allen found help by enrolling in the JVS Pre-College Math Class in Fall 2009.  The class helped him refresh the math skills he learned in high school and he passed the college placement test. Filled with new confidence, he enrolled into Bunker Hill Community College in the Spring of 2010 in hopes of obtaining a certificate in medical coding.

”The things I learned in this pre-college program go beyond just mathematics,” says Allen.  “I learned that it is never too late to retool, refocus, try hard, and learn new skills.” Allen has just finished his first semester of college, earning all A’s in his classes and plans to take English and Math next semester. Allen is well on his way to reaching his goal of becoming a medical coder.  “I encourage anyone who wants to achieve their goals faster to follow in my footsteps.”

Jennifer Cox

Jennifer Cox has been employed at Hebrew Senior Life as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) for the last two years and is part of the Hebrew Senior Life’s nursing career ladder program.  Jennifer enrolled in the JVS Pre-College Math Class prior to enrolling in college in the Fall of 2008.

Jennifer says the JVS program was effective because she shared a personal connection with her instructor. Jennifer says, “The same person helped me with every single session and understood the areas that I needed to work on. My instructor at JVS took the time to help when I needed more time to understand the material.”

“I learned many new skills at the program such as how to study and take notes effectively, how to break down math problems, and how to challenge myself.” Jennifer passed her college placement test and finally had the chance to go to college with the skills needed to succeed. Jennifer received her LPN Certificate from MassBay Community College in July 2010. Eventually she wants to go back to college to become an RN.

“I highly recommend the JVS Pre-College program to everyone because it was so helpful in helping me learn how to manage my time, get organized, and be a better student.  It has really allowed me to take the right steps toward my goal of becoming an R.N.”

The path to acquiring a middle skill job is not easy but is definitely feasible.  As we can see from these stories, key aspects of success include a personal connection with tutors/coaches, flexible and condensed pre-college courses suitable for working adults, and industry-focused curriculum that allows participants to move toward their career goals.  As a result of these and other program elements as well as hard work, both Allen and Jennifer are on their way to achieving the credentials needed for a middle skill job.

To learn more about the JVS pre-college program, please visit www.jvs-boston.org