“How I got a summer job.”

SEIU Local 99 member reports back on job readiness workshop.

by Yessica Escobar 

Yessica Escobar - headshotEvery summer, I struggle. I’ve been denied Unemployment Insurance in the past and I wasn’t able to find work during the summer. Then I learned that my union was offering a four-day “Work Readiness” course at the union hall. Attending the workshop was such a good decision! Two weeks later, I got a summer job that might even turn into a part-time position all year.

I really love my job at Byrd Middle School. After six years as a T.A., I’ve learned that I’m really good at working with the kids who seem to be struggling. And the teachers see that I have skills in this area, too. I’m usually the one who’s asked to take a child aside if they’re acting out in class. I have a really calm approach and the child and I are always able to quickly discover what’s going on.

What I never knew before was that this skill—being able to calmly interact with people in difficult situations—was valuable in pretty much any working environment. Ms. Jones, who taught the 4-day workshop, helped us see all of the “transferable skills” we had and how we could confidently take those skills to other jobs.

When I walked into a local Ross clothing store that was hiring in my neighborhood last month, I knew I had the job. I saw the hiring manager’s face as I described how I worked with difficult students and how I would use the same approach to work with difficult customers; how I would listen and stay calm and defuse the situation. They pretty much asked me “when can you start?” before I finished my sentence! It was amazing! I had never been able to do that before.

I also learned how to see possibilities. I’d been to job fairs before and I remember thinking things like “Pharmaceuticals!? What does that have to do with me? How can an educator get a job there?”  But this year, when I attended Local 99’s Summer Resource Fair, I was more open. I actually “networked” and spoke to everyone.

I think this is going to change my summers forever.

Connecting members with resources is one way SEIU Local 99 is helping members address the issue of summer unemployment. In our three-pronged approach to Summer Relief for School Workers, we are:

  1. Working to pass legislation to ensure school workers are eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits.
  2. Fighting to expand summer school
  3. Connecting members with training and other resources


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