Networking, Mentoring, Friendships and Camaraderie – Our Latest Employment Immersion Success, Jessica Phu

Jessica Phu sits at her computer“I worked at the same company for twenty-two years, then they moved to Salt Lake City, and I found myself out of a job. I had no idea what to do. I met with a counselor from the Department of Rehabilitation in Oakland, who told me about LightHouse’s Employment Immersion program. I was reluctant, but I spoke with Kate Williams, [Employment Immersion Coordinator], and she convinced me to give it a try.”
–Jessica Phu

Jessica, LightHouse’s latest Employment Immersion success, came to us with a concern many future students have: is Employment Immersion the right fit? Jessica tells us, “I was the only visually impaired person in my company for over twenty years. I was not connected to the blind community. Though I identified as someone with a visual impairment, it wasn’t a big part of my life, so I wasn’t sure Employment Immersion was right for me.”

Many of our Employment Immersion students are at first reluctant because they don’t yet have many connections to the blindness community. Jessica notes, “Kate reminded me, this is a program for jobseekers who are blind or visually impaired. I fit that bill. She then urged me to give at least one class a try. I agreed, and found myself in Employment Immersion the very next day.”

Jessica regained the job seeking skills that had rusted over twenty-two years of working at the same job. She says, “I hadn’t looked for a job in nearly a quarter of a century. I didn’t know how to look for a job online, what a current resume should look like, and how to build a network in the digital age. Employment Immersion taught me those skills.”

She continues, “But, those skills—I call them ‘on paper’ job seeking skills—aren’t the most important lessons I learned. The best part of Employment Immersion is the network of blind mentors, friends and jobseekers that I gained. Before Employment Immersion, I really didn’t know many blind or visually impaired people. Within one class, I realized that Employment Immersion would give me something I didn’t know I needed: camaraderie. Not only did I gain a network of jobseekers, I also gained a community of blind and visually impaired people who understand my visual impairment. For me, this was huge. Suddenly, I had people I could turn to who could share personal experiences about blindness.”

In the end, it was the combination of job seeking skills and network building that landed Jessica her job. “Kate kept telling us, ‘people hire people.’ She urged us to reach out to our contacts and let them know, ‘hey, I’m looking for a job.’” While Jessica was building her network, a former coworker contacted her. “He told me about a new position in my former company that had just moved to Salt Lake City. It turns out a subsidiary of the company was still located in the Bay Area. With his encouragement, I applied for the Business Process/System Analyst position at OOCL Logistics, and am happy to report that I got the job!” Jessica helps customers with technical concerns. “I love my job and the awesome team I work with every day.”

For jobseekers Jessica urges, “Go out, make connections and get along with people.”

If you’re hesitant to start Employment Immersion, Jessica encourages you to give LightHouse a call. “I wasn’t sure about the program until I spoke with Kate. I am extremely happy that I took the Employment Immersion class, and I’m sure you will be too.”

The LightHouse Employment Immersion program is for people who are blind or have low vision, from any background, seeking any job. To learn more, contact Employment Immersion Coordinator Wanda Pearson at or call 415-694-7359.