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GET2WORK Program Working to Connect Young People With Good Jobs

by on September 07, 2014 10:00 AM

Sarah Travis is no stranger to helping people become employed.

As the youth workforce specialist at the Centre County office of CareerLink, Sarah works with the young and unemployed on a regular basis.

For the past three years, that has meant heading GET2WORK, a program offered through the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation. It's designed to help job hunters between the ages of 17 and 24.

What does GET2WORK really do? Well for starters, it certainly isn’t about finding someone just any old job. 

“It’s not about farming them out to McDonald's or Burger King,” Travis says. “It’s about finding them something sustainable.”

In order to qualify for GET2WORK, applicants must have a high school diploma, a GED or be working towards a GED, be in the 17-24 age range, and be unemployed, working less than 20 hours a week or earning minimum wage.

Since the people who qualify for help don't have a college degree, finding them employment can be difficult.  The process begins with individual attention.

At GET2WORK, a person isn’t treated as just another number, but as someone whose interests and skills can and should be sharpened.

“We like to work in small groups and we work with them individually as much as possible,” Travis says. “We help them explore their options to see if they want further schooling or just work. It depends on their interest.”

With so much one-on-one time, staff members at GET2WORK are able to do more than just help individuals find job openings.

From interview preparation to learning how to develop contacts, Travis and her staff offer a wide range of job training.

“We make sure they know how to interview and present themselves in person,” Travis says. “We show them how to make resumes, keep references … if they need it, we can help them brush up on their computer skills.

And if someone finds a job yet still isn’t satisfied? GET2WORK is still at their disposal.

“Our follow-up period is pretty extensive,” Travis says. “If they don’t call us we reach out to them to see how things are going. If they hate the job we’ll counsel them on how to stay with it.”

Even with all the career help and the current rate of unemployment at 5.6 percent, according to the website for the CPWDC, Travis admits that finding those in need of help hasn’t always been easy.

According to Travis, the beginning of the fall and the holiday seasons tend to bring in the most phone calls. Still, getting out the word about the program is still a work in progress, though there is a Facebook page.

“Over the summer things have been quiet but recently they’ve picked up,” Travis said. “There’s constant interest, but a lot of people still don’t know what CareerLink and GET2WORK is. I try to go through social services to get the word out.”

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Matt Allibone is a StateCollege.com intern. He's a Penn State senior, studying print journalism. Matt is a native of Delran, N.J.
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