AUW Offers Job Skills Workshops
By Dianne Anderson
High school fashionistas will unite in the coming weeks around one of the most important skills that will carry them through their lifetime – how to land a job, and what to wear when they get it.
Starting January 17, Arrowhead United Way began their popular Interview for Success events partnership with San Bernardino City Unified Schools to show the young ladies at Arroyo Valley, San Bernardino and Pacific High Schools what success looks like.
Gretchen Strutzenberg, the program manager at Arrowhead United Way, said their workforce development workshops held at local school sites make it easy access for the girls, who often have transportation problems.
In the past, the full day event has drawn great turnout, and the girls get a shopping spree after they learn the ins and outs of landing that great job. Last year, they held similar events at Rialto, Carter and Eisenhower high schools.
“It really makes it easier, we build a presence on the school site with administrators, faculty and staff as well as students. They are more familiar with Arrowhead United Way, and the initiatives that we have for students as well,” said Strutzenberg.
Twice a year, the Interview For Success events happen for juniors and seniors over five-weeks at selected schools. The program also hosts its one-day intensive workshop at Macy’s, which is geared toward ages 16-24 to help reach younger women in need.
Workshops are big on time management, development of personal and soft skills, along with network building tools. The goal is to get young ladies thinking of what’s needed to land the job, and that dressing appropriately is part of the hiring process.
Strutzenberg is also introducing special programming to help the shy girls speak up.
“Who do you have to be regardless of the type of job you get?” she said. “I’ve had a lot of students give feedback, that, ‘you’ve really helped me break out of my shell, and if I hadn’t, there’s no way I would have found this scholarship or opportunity.’”
A guest from the Inland Empire Women’s Business Center will speak on networking around different personality styles. Linda Lindsey, an Attorney At Law, is also helping with a clothing drive along with her colleagues.
This year, the girls will get their shopping spree on at Ross Stores with an emphasis on helping homeless, displaced or foster kids. They will learn they don’t have to spend a lot to look great.
“It teaches them finances,” Strutzenberg said. “Not only will they get a chance to go shopping, but they’ll also have a chance to pick nice, appropriate, decent clothing.”
Five years ago, Pamela Montana started as a mentor with Arrowhead Women United to help the young ladies learn what they need to be successful, something she wishes she had more of growing up in San Bernardino.
Even though she went to college, like so many other students in the city, she said that her parents weren’t equipped to guide her through the maze of higher education. For that reason, she is excited about the program, education, financial access, healthy lifestyles, and all the priority areas for Women United programs.
She said that working with Strutzenberg to develop new approaches to outreach has been an amazing.
“We do realize the area that we work in is a very needy socioeconomic city,” she said. “The young ladies that we help, a lot of them are first-time high school graduates going on to post-secondary education.”
For them, it’s a whole new experience. At the workshops, they talk about surviving academic life, getting ready for their first real jobs, and what comes next. With graduation not far off, they also emphasize the importance of Calgrants and going after that free $12,000 a year for college if they get their applications in before the March 2 deadline.
Montana is a former elementary school teacher, and resource teacher, until that position was eliminated. Currently, she is an education liaison with the county of San Bernardino, where she advocates for foster youth.
At upcoming workshops, she will conduct her favorite mock interviews, and give a scholarship in her father’s name, which she has been providing to local girls in need for over 11 years.
The program also brings other professional ladies to teach the girls how to dress, how to keep up with makeup and jewelry, and how to use body language.
“I really hope they can go to school, and do something with their lives,” she said. “Do something for you and come back and give back if you can. It’s about helping the young women, they have their future ahead of them.”
To learn more about upcoming workshops, see call (909) 884-9441
Or see www.arrowheadunitedway.org