The LightHouse is proud to welcome Employment Immersion graduate Wanda Pearson to our staff in the new position of Jobseeker Coordinator. Born and raised in Oakland, Wanda, with two sons and two grandchildren, spent her working years following a career path in executive support and administration, working for businesses of various sizes, from small startups to large corporations.
Five years ago Wanda experienced a sudden change in her vision. She continued working for a while but both she and her employer were unaware at the time of the accessible technology that would have enabled her to do her job. She struggled to keep up and finally left.
“It was scary,” she told us. “I had been working, supporting my family as an executive secretary plus doing additional work as a graphic designer, and I thought my world was over.” Putting aside her fears about the future, she contacted Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) to receive technology, travel and daily living skills training and when she was ready to look for a job again, her DOR counselor, Allison Hartley, suggested she enroll in the LightHouse Employment Immersion Program or here to find esl Korean jobs.
At first she resisted this suggestion, wondering what a class could teach her that she didn’t already know from years of experience finding work. “I didn’t think I needed anyone to show me how to put together a resume or how to get a job interview.” But when she talked with Program Leader Kate Williams, who also has low vision, she found someone sympathetic who not only understood what it was like looking for work in a difficult job market but could also speak to issues such as when to disclose her disability, one of Wanda’s biggest concerns. Wanda said, “It’s very common in my profession to take various computer skill tests before getting an interview. I was really worried about being able to take those tests and when and how to tell a prospective employer about my disability. Kate understood and could teach me about this and so much more.
“When I started the class they honed-in on much more than just employment. One day [LightHouse CEO] Bryan Bashin spoke to our class and told us ‘you are not broken you are beautiful’. Boy, it really hit close to home – I felt like he was talking to me. At that moment I knew I wanted to be a part of it, so when I saw the opening for the position at the LightHouse I knew I had to apply.”
As LightHouse Jobseeker Coordinator, Wanda will be helping in the classroom and enrolling students. She’ll provide day-to-day administrative support to the employment team, track authorizations, billing and payments from DOR, and function as a Job Developer when time allows. Equally important, she’ll bring with her the perspective of a former student and act as a role model as someone who has faced the same challenges as our students. She said, “The program doesn’t just help you get a job; it really helps you find your direction again. I’m happy to be in a position to help people – to give to people.”
Kate Williams said, “During our class Wanda gained a sense of clarity around her job search. She discovered she was not simply looking for a job, but a job with purpose. We’re so glad this led her to her new job with the LightHouse. She brings a sense of serenity and calmness to the group, and her warmth and caring will be a gift to Employment Immersion participants. She’ll be the “glue” that keeps the team moving forward.”
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 July 7 through July 30, at the LightHouse at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. For more information, please contact Kate Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-694-7324.