LightHouse Employment Specialist Ed Wong explains that he “took the total San Francisco route” when it came to his education. Born in San Francisco, Ed went to City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
Ed has a lot of experience working in job placement, but once worked a very different side of the field. During the late 1990s dot-com bubble, when investors poured money into a flurry of internet startups, Ed worked at a now-defunct website called HotJobs where people could search online for jobs. He worked with companies who wanted to place their job advertisements on the website.
Several years later, Ed became a job recruiter for the Human Resources Department of the City and County of San Francisco where he worked to fill positions at that agency. This is when Ed first heard about the LightHouse. One of Ed’s projects was to recruit people with disabilities to fill jobs. “LightHouse was the organization that gave me the most qualified candidates,” he beams.
Because of the work San Francisco’s Human Resources Department was doing with LightHouse, Ed began learning about the blindness community. Getting to know blind jobseekers with different work histories made him better at his job. “I learned to speak with different hiring managers about hiring people with disabilities,” he elaborates.
Ed recently joined the LightHouse team as an Employment Specialist and works with LightHouse students who are looking for jobs. Besides teaching the fundamentals of resume writing and job interviewing skills, Ed also serves as a career mentor. He understands that being unemployed is frustrating. “A lot of people identify their worth with employment and it’s detrimental when they aren’t employed,” he remarks. One thing Ed does is work with students on crafting their “elevator pitch”, that is, a 30-second summary of the work experience and skills they bring to a job. “When they get good at that pitch, they just exude confidence,” he declares. While Ed serves as a guide, each student must take an active role in their job search. “I’m here to help, but students also have to search for their own positions.”
Ed has been married nearly twenty years and has two teenage sons. “One of the challenges I have right now is helping them navigate high school,” he explains. Luckily, he and his sons have time to enjoy fun things like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and savory Chinese pancakes at House of Pancakes on Taraval in San Francisco.
Another thing Ed enjoys doing is feeding his coworkers. “My mother-in-law’s good friend works at a bakery. The owner invited me to take the bread that isn’t going to be sold.” So once a week, Ed brings freshly baked bread for his fellow LightHouse staff to enjoy.
Ed describes how his work with students at LightHouse has impacted him: “Once you place a person in a job and see where it takes them, it’s an overwhelming feeling of joy and fulfillment.”