Pathways is not just a shelter for homeless women and children. At Pathways, we help get women on their feet and keep them there. One of the ways we do that is by offering the Employment Readiness Program.
So what is the class really like? I went behind the scenes during Pathways' latest Employment Readiness session to find out.
Employment Readiness is:
Educational: On the first day, women dive right in by taking a quiz focused on resume basics. Each day the women learn about a different work-related skill. Day two covers resume writing (do’s and don’ts, buzz words to use and formatting). Day four focuses on job applications (including common mistakes made). Day seven is all about mock interviews (complete with proper interview attire). Other topics covered include how to write a cover letter, where to look for jobs and how to build self-esteem.
“Learning to construct a resume is something I’ve always had trouble with," said Strawberry, one of the women who participated in the Employment Readiness Program. "I’m so happy because ever since high school, I’ve always wanted a resume that looked like this and now I have it.”
Heartfelt: It isn’t just resume writing and mock interviews. Over the course of two weeks, the women really grow closer. Each day, laughs are shared and personal stories are revealed. On the last day of class, smiles and hugs went all around. At the end, Ashley, one of the teachers, was even holding one woman’s baby girl, bottle-feeding her. Soon after, the baby, still in Ashley’s arms, let out a big burp.
Eye Opening: Many things people take for granted often pose obstacles to homeless women. “What address will I use?” “What if I didn’t finish college or high school?” “I haven’t had a job in years. How do I put that on my resume?” Those were all issues that teachers Lauren and Ashley helped the women solve.
Honest: Women at Pathways come from many different situations. Just in this class alone there were women that had worked in many different jobs, including as a substitute teacher, at the Red Cross, as a telemarketer, a nursing assistant and a security guard. The 15 women in this class all had different life stories and backgrounds but were all hoping for one thing—to get back on their feet. The class works because, even with all their differences, there is an abundance of honesty and respect.
At the end of the two-week session, the women walked out of that classroom not only with several copies of a properly formatted resume, but with their heads held high and their hearts hopeful.
Heather Caygle is a former public relations intern from at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She spent the summer working with Pathways.