Jessica Veklerov was born in the Bay Area and graduated in 2013 with a BA in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz. She has always been committed to a work ethic of that includes being of service.
“I started out majoring in Science but it didn’t feel like a good fit. One day a friend of mine was ill and asked if I would go to her Psychology class and take notes. That was it – I was hooked. I’ve always enjoyed helping people and Santa Cruz has a huge emphasis on social justice and psychology so I decided then to pursue a Psychology degree.”
Jessica has had a number of part-time paid and volunteer work experiences while in school, but she, like many, found it challenging to find a full-time job in our just recovering economy. In addition, although her low vision had been well accommodated for during her school years, she found that not all companies were willing to consider the simple accessibility adjustments she would need to work for them. That’s when her DOR counselor, Sylvia Oberti, recommended that she enroll in the LightHouse Employment Immersion Program.
Jessica told us, “The Employment Immersion Program was great. I made a bunch of friends and loved being around people who were all going through the same thing. The whole group was so encouraging. When I started I thought I knew all the ways to apply for a job because I had been doing it for years. But through the program I learned how to search for jobs more efficiently. I also learned about job websites I’d never heard of, like the USAJOBS site I used to find the job I have now.”
Jessica has just started working for the Social Security Administration as part of Pathways, a Federal government sponsored program that brings recent graduates into internships that “provide meaningful training and career development opportunities for individuals who are at the beginning of their Federal service.” (www.usajobs.gov/studentsandgrads/)
Her official title is Social Security Administration Benefits Authorizer. The position begins as a paid internship, at a salary that is a step up from entry level. It includes on the job training and mentorship and after two years it becomes permanent, or she can look at other government positions she might like to try for.
“Jessica combines a thoughtful and warm personality with a passion for helping people,” says LightHouse Employment Immersion Program Leader Kate Williams. “Her goal has always been to be in social services, and I think our program helped her to learn a good deal about effective interviewing and how to show that warmth and caring and make it a primary asset for prospective employers.” “I would really like to thank Kate Williams,” Jessica said. “She goes to great lengths to help the people in the program and her encouragement and energy was so much appreciated.”
Are you new to the working world and not sure how to get started? Or do you just want to kick your career up a notch? Our next Employment Immersion session will run every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday beginning May 5 through May 28, at the LightHouse at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. For more information, please contact Kate Williams at email@example.com or 415-694-7324.