Interview Practice Lands Christina a Job

Christina Hall has always been a hard worker – even when faced with obstacles

Christina grew up in Maryland and was raised by a single father.

“My dad is my hero. He is a construction worker and never completed high school, but he always worked hard and when he set his mind to something he made it happen. I think that is where I get my work ethic from.”

After Christina graduated high school, her plan was to become a Marine. Instead, she became pregnant. A year after her daughter’s birth, she started working nights at a convenience store.

Four years later in 2007, she relocated to Oakfield, Maine, and began taking classes at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.

When looking for a job, she turned to the Presque Isle CareerCenter for help.

“I first met my career counselor when I was doing work study at the Houlton Higher Education Center. I talked to him about helping me work on my resume due to an assignment I had for college,” said Christina. “Then, because of his helpfulness, I just kept going back. He has turned out to be a pretty good mentor as well as a friend.”  

Christina is thankful for her counselor’s genuine help when she uses the CareerCenter for job seeking.

“He was very personable and made me feel very comfortable. I didn't feel like I was being judged at all. He assisted me with my resume and my cover letters and helped me with re-wording and condensing things down.”  

Her counselor has also helped members of Christina’s family with their resumes and application preparation as well.

“He has always been very supportive and very interested in the plans that I have regarding my career, and has always been very excited both with me and for me.”  

Some of the challenges Christina had when finding a job was the feeling of rejection after failed interviews.

“I hate when I feel like I didn’t give it my all or that I could have tried harder. I think one of my weaknesses is that I tend to beat myself up over things like that – especially if I really wanted the job.”

Luckily, her CareerCenter counselor taught Christina how to feel more comfortable during interviews. The day before her interview for her current job, she went to him for help.

“We sat down in a conference room and he immediately asked me a hard question…I just drew a blank and then he coached me to calm down and take breaths and take it slowly, then he started to ask me questions again and made me more comfortable. He showed me that I was confident in myself and that I could do this,” she said. “I went to the interview the next day and I felt like I nailed it. And I did! I got a call the next day and was offered the job. I was so excited. I called my counselor and he was excited with me. 

Christina now works as a clerk at the court.

Emily "Don’t be afraid to apply"

Emily Jones didn't grow up with much. Her father is a log truck driver, but has been laid off for years and her mother has a disability that prevents her from working. Emily always knew she wanted to be a nurse, but wasn’t sure how she was going to be able to afford the schooling for it.
Emily Jones
“We had barely been able to make ends meet most months, and the idea of going to a four year college was something of a pipe dream to me.”

Feeling hopeless, Emily made an appointment at the CareerCenter.

When she met with her counselor, Emily said, “she listened to my concerns about school and helped me with an important decision. She encouraged me to choose a four-year college since continuing my education was important to me.”

The career counselor also helped Emily choose the school that was not only a good fit, but would also assist her the most financially. She signed Emily up for the Workforce Investment Act Youth Program because of her family’s low income and helped her apply for scholarships.

Emily is about to go into her third year of nursing at the University of Maine at Orono.

And because of the CareerCenter's help, Emily has been successful and, for the first time, doesn't have to worry about money.

“Without the Workforce Investment Act, as well as the generosity of the scholarships, going to school wouldn’t have been as stress-free as it has been so far,” she said. “Unlike my classmates, I have zero dollars of student loan debt at the present moment. This allows me to concentrate on my studies instead of worrying about the costs of my education.”

Today, the CareerCenter is still something Emily uses for help when filling out her FAFSA for financial aid.

“They also have computers available, with printers, which makes it easy to print things off for scholarships,” she said. “The staff members are always very friendly when I come in and always willing to lend a hand.”

Emily is thankful to the CareerCenter for opening up her eyes to the possibility of making college doable and affordable for her and her family. 

“A lot of people look at going on to higher education as something out of their financial means. School can definitely be expensive, but it doesn't have to be,” she said. “There is plenty of aid through grants or scholarships. Don’t be afraid to apply for those things simply from fear of being turned down. You might just get it.”

Chantal: A Resume Re-Vamp Results in a New Career

For Chantal Vachon, fixing her resume was all she needed to get on her feet – that and someone to believe in her. She found that support at the York County CareerCenter in Springvale.

When Chantal arrived at the CareerCenter, she wanted to change careers after many years working in different retail jobs. Her goal was to work in an office environment. She first met with a career counselor and learned how to re-build her resume. Then she took some classes to boost her skills while continuing to update and improve her resume.
“I must have put over 10 hours into my resume initially,” she wrote in a thank-you note. “…Now even I am surprised at what I see when I look at it.”

After solidifying her resume, Chantal applied to five jobs on a Friday. By Monday, she had been contacted by four employers asking for interviews.

“Two of the people I spoke to for interviews stated how impressed they were by my resume. I interviewed with one of them on Tuesday and they offered me the job later that day.”

She said she has the CareerCenter to thank for this change in her career.

“I don’t think I would have ever dreamed of having a resume as polished as it is now because I didn’t see myself as being as experienced as I am,” said Chantal.

Her CareerCenter counselor helped Chantal not only improve her resume so that it reflected her many skills, but also, and more important, he boosted her confidence.

“Brainstorming transferable skills with you was a huge success and creating a branding statement seemed to really help me market myself,” she wrote to her career counselor. “Prior to my re-vamped resume, I had applied to numerous positions…with minimal success, if any.”

Now, Chantal has a new job as an order processor at a distribution plant in Saco—just the kind of position she desired.

She’s excited to use her customer service and organizational skills. Chantal is also thankful that her counselor encouraged her to learn Quickbooks at the CareerCener – a skill she now uses at her new job.

Chantal said the company is expanding, and she hopes to work her way into a human resources position.

“Sometimes taking a step back, refocusing and fine tuning is necessary to get the job you really want,” said Chantal, who is happy with her career change. 

Chantal is grateful for the assistance the CareerCenter provided to help her realize that she was capable and had the skills to obtain the job she wanted.

“I don’t know how you do it,” she wrote to her counselor. “I don’t think I could have gotten this job, or even received more than one call to schedule an interview in such a short period of time, if I hadn’t had that meeting with you to fix up my old, drab resume. The knowledge I gained there is priceless and you were a major part of that. Thank you.”

Josh Taps Youth Program for College and Career Success

When Josh Spencer first sought help from the Washington County CareerCenter in 2008, he didn’t realize what a profound impact it would have on his life.

Four years later, Josh graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maine at Machias with a major in psychology and community studies and a minor in counseling.

Since then, he has already made a name for himself within the Machias community.

Josh now works as the manager of I.T. LLC – The Video Game, UPS and eBay Store in Machias. He also recently became the president of the Machias Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors after he was recognized by the chamber as the 2014 Employee of the Year.

Josh displaying plaque recognizing him as Machias' Chamber of Commerce 2014 Employee of the Year
Josh thanked the CareerCenter for helping him to start the journey that led him to where he is today.

The program at the CareerCenter helped Josh pay for college, and staff helped to guide him through the whole process.

Having a counselor there “to ask questions and to help me find answers regarding billing, enrollment and basically any other business related question I had about the college was great. If a problem ever arose she was quick to call and fix it for me. She was a tremendous asset.”

Josh continues to stay in touch with his counselor, and his sister is receiving help from her now.

Recently, Josh successfully spear-headed an event called “The Machias Showcase.” The event was a day to celebrate that Machias’s businesses. The event revolved around a raffle, where tickets were collected at each venue to help promote the businesses.

A few days before the event, Josh wrote to his counselor, “This is my brainchild, my pride and joy and I am hoping it will be a success.”

For the Washington County CareerCenter, Josh is the success.

And because of the CareerCenter, Josh’s successes are sweetened by a peace of mind.

“I did not think that I would be able to get through college without owing massive amounts of student debt, but thanks to working hard to make money, good grades allowing for better scholarships and all of the help that my counselor and the CareerCenter provided, I can proudly say I graduated without owing a dime and having never taken out a single loan.”

Josh can’t wait to see where life takes him next.

“I love being involved. It feels so good,” said Josh. “Hopefully there are more big things to come!”

Ben Gains Confidence to Get Into a Promising Technology Career

Ben* has always had a knack for technology.

"I was the guy who could stop your VCR from blinking 12 o’clock."

“I learned to solve problems early on using computer skills I learned from reverse engineering programming languages on my Commodore 64 computer, and since used those skills to solve any number of technical problems, like installing car audio equipment or building and repairing computers.”

Ben has lived in Southern Maine all his life. He was born at Goodall Hospital and raised by a single mother.

While working at a factory in the late 90s, Ben severely injured his ankle and knee. He was also suffering from some mental health issues at the time. Ben was awarded a small settlement for the work injury that could only support him for a short time; soon after, he was living off social security insurance.

“I had many mental difficulties compounded by the knee and ankle injury, which I worked through with the help of my family’s support and great doctors and nurse practitioners and therapists, eventually readying me to seek a dependable career.”

And so he turned to the CareerCenter to find that career. But what Ben got out of the CareerCenter was more than just help finding a job – it restored his confidence.

The CareerCenter empowered Ben to take that first step of re-training, and provided him with the counseling and support to get through it. By providing the encouragement and the opportunity, the CareerCenter helped Ben get back on his feet.

With the CareerCenter’s assistance, he connected with the Vocational Rehabilitation program—also known as "voc rehab," another service of Maine’s Department of Labor—that supports the employment of people with disabilities. Through voc rehab, he earned his Computer Technician certification and went on to earn a higher-level certification in Security Administration.

For Ben, passing the certification exam was not the difficult part. The technical knowledge and skills came naturally to him. Rather, his lack of self-confidence had stopped him from having a successful career.

"The most challenging issue was not being afraid of taking that first step. I was stressing about finding and beginning work again, and even feeling as though I wouldn't be competent, before I had even completed my second certification exam."

Ben said he had a difficult time picturing himself being successful.

"I had been without solid work for so long. I had the skills before even beginning the certification training, but I feared what was out there in the real world."

Fortunately, Ben found a job soon after in the tech field.

"The feeling of not fitting in, or not being seen for what I was capable of in an office environment, loomed for years until I actually made it into one, and then once I made it into the position, I felt more comfortable than I ever did sitting at home all day in my own closed environment."

Ben is glad he went to the CareerCenter for help and really values the services it provides.

"I would have no success story at all without those training programs. They were the bottom line as to why I succeeded," said Ben. "Having those certifications in my pocket proved to myself, as well as potential employers, that I knew what I was talking about when it came to computers."

*The name of the client has been changed upon request.

Amanda: “At the CareerCenter, I am somebody."

When Amanda Wilbur was laid off in October, she arrived to the Bangor CareerCenter feeling lost.

“I had never been laid off before. If I had left a job in the past, it was by choice.”

On her first visit to the CareerCenter, she met with a CareerCenter consultant. And so began a new journey of education, a few more road bumps and a long-lasting mentorship.

Amanda was having a difficult time finding work, so she decided to take this opportunity to finally get her degree.

Her CareerCenter consultant helped her get in touch with a program called the Maine Educational Opportunity Center that gave her the encouragement and confidence to go back to school. She was also able to receive unemployment while attending school through dislocated worker benefits.

Besides the unemployment benefits, Amanda paid for school by herself through student loans. Part way through school, she received the notice that her benefits were going to run out.

“I was upset. I didn’t want to give up. I was almost in tears and I went to see my [CareerCenter consultant], who cheered me up. He is my moral support and someone I think of as family.”

Through determination, and the CareerCenter's support, Amanda was able to gain back the support she needed. And her first semester she received a 3.3 GPA.

Right now, Amanda is attending the University of Maine at Augusta. Once her general education requirements are complete, she hopes to transfer to Husson University.

Amanda finds herself sending her fellow college students to the CareerCenter to get help. She thinks she would like to be a social worker.

“I want to help people. I’ve been talking to my [CareerCenter consultant] about it and he thinks I would be great at it. He encourages me.”

Amanda said her CareerCenter consultant always makes himself available. 

“Always having that person there for you when you need it is great. When times are tough or if I need someone to bounce ideas off of, I can go to him.”

Amanda has the CareerCenter to thank for where she is today.

“I have been doubtful and stressed as a 36-year-old single mom. But the CareerCenter knows me. When I walk in there I am always smiling and they are always helpful no matter what the problem is,” said Amanda. “At the CareerCenter, I am somebody."

Deb: “The CareerCenter helped me know I was not alone”

Deb Dallago was offered a job last week. She is thrilled, and has the CareerCenter to thank.

Deb was on unemployment for seven months, and the whole time the CareerCenter was there for her with amazing staff and resources, she said.

She first met her CareerCenter consultant at a workshop in Saco.

“I was impressed with his honesty, stories and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Deb. “He made our group feel valued and we were not alone.”

Deb said connection with the staff as well as the resources she gained from the CareerCenter was what helped her get a job.

She said at the CareerCenter workshops, staff explained all of the resources and services and spent a lot of time with her sharing ideas and helping to fix her resume.

Deb also attended the Job Fair Workshop, which provided her with a list of the companies so she so she was able to research and make notes ahead of time. At the job fair, with over 80 companies looking to hire, Deb had the confidence to seek out the company she wanted to work for.

“I met with the human resources manager from one of the companies I was extra excited to meet and introduced myself,” said Deb. “And because of that first contact was offered an interview. I accepted a position as an administrative assistant.”

Deb said the most challenging thing she went through during the process of finding a new job was not giving up and settling on just any job.

“I am close to 60 years old and just did not want to settle at this time in my life. I needed to stay positive and remind myself that when one door closes another one opens. I AM a great candidate and plan on staying at the job I accept.

“It took seven months but this position has every single bullet point I had written down for my dream job. It’s really never too late to follow our dreams.”

After being out of work for so long, the CareerCenter gave Deb the confidence and the inspiration to find the job she knew she deserved.

“As great as the staff was, I hope to never need you again.”