Greg Trela never quite knew when his vision was going to change. Since age 11, Greg has known that changing vision would be a fact in his life, but it didn’t make the process any less of a challenge. Using only one eye for thirteen years, Greg got through college, pursued all of his interests, and then, in 2011, his other retina detached, requiring four surgeries. At the time he had one quarter left on his master’s degree in engineering.
Greg returned to school, finished his degree program, but did not find a clear path waiting for him once he got out. He put in applications and went on job interviews, but despite his qualifications, something didn’t catch. Finally, in 2013, someone gave him the number of DOR counsellor Sylvia Oberti, who put him on the fast-track to finding good work.
“I didn’t have a cane until I saw Sylvia. She just happened to have one my size.” (Greg is 6’6”). “So I wasn’t using a cane, and I think I had four or five interviews in 2014. What I realize now since I’ve started using a cane is it just changes peoples’ perceptions — and for the most part I think it’s actually for the better.”
Not only was Greg given a cane, but he was introduced to Kate Williams at the LightHouse’s Employment Immersion program, where over the course of the program, he learned how to turn those frustrating interviews into job offers. “I didn’t know about writing thank you notes. Knowing that after you go to an interview you need to write a thank you note to everybody you saw, try to emphasize some point, recognize that it’s part of the hiring process, part of the expectation of the interview. And you can ask questions about the upcoming interview, ask for an updated job description so that you know what’s expected.”
It wasn’t just interview training either. With Kate at this side, Greg learned about every stage of the training and hiring process. “For me, the big thing about working with Kate was getting my cover letters better,” he says. “Emphasizing what skills you have can contribute to the company or institution you’re going to go work for. How can you benefit them? Working for them, yes, you will benefit; but in your cover letter it’s more about how you can benefit the company. You have to sell yourself by saying ‘this is who I am and this is how I can help you.’”
All these skills helped land Greg a job this fall as a Junior Civil Engineer for the City of San Francisco, Department of Public Works. He is currently reviewing permits for new constructions, and coincidentally, works right downstairs from the LightHouse’s future home on Market Street. We couldn’t be happier for him.
Next Employment Immersion Session Starts January 12
Get ready for your first or next job. The next Employment Immersion session will run from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from January 12 through February 11 at the LightHouse Ed Roberts Campus office in Berkeley. For more information, please contact Kate Williams at email@example.com or 415-694-7324.