People might assume that a community college career center would be a small(ish) operations focused solely on serving the students at the institution. The Ohlone College Tri-Cities Career Center is anything but.
The College is an authorized service provider of career services and resources under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). And, serving three main stakeholders—including students, the Tri-Cities community, and small businesses in Alameda County—the Career Center is ramping up services to meet the needs of the unemployed.
So how have they stepped up their operations during this unprecedented time where COVID-19 is adding a monolithic strain on the workforce? Daniel Newell, Director of the Ohlone College Tri-Cities Career Center sat down with us to explain.
OC: Have you seen the need for the Career Center’s services increase during this time?
DN: Yes, absolutely. As of this week, approximately 100,000 people in Alameda County filed for unemployment. That leaves a record number of people who are in need of assistance with finding employment. Many will be taking this time to skill-up to make themselves more employable which might include using one of our many resources like taking a Career Center Workshop or a Noncredit course through the College.
- Career Center workshops: Job Search Strategies; Resume Writing; LinkedIn; Internships 101; Perfecting the Interview; and What can I do with this Major?
- Noncredit courses: Managing Organizational Change, Legal Aspects of Small Business; Stress Management in the Workplace; Team Building; and Decision Making/Problem Solving
For the unemployed populations we’re focusing on providing them with virtual recruiting events called Career Bytes. These are really informative talks given by local employers about various job and internship opportunities. A lot of companies are actually hiring right now despite the current climate and that is really something people need to know about.
We’ve teamed up with the City of Fremont’s Economic Development Department, Mission College, Peralta Community College District, Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, and Eden Area America’s Job Center of California (AJCC) to increase our audience and the kind of employment opportunities we showcase.
Each week we feature different companies—hosting recruiters from startups to bigger companies—participants have the opportunity to ask questions after each presentation. We’ve averaged over 120 people joining our sessions each week and have really been happy to connect the unemployed with prospective employers.
OC: Now that we’re in a remote environment and students are not physically on campus, how are you serving students?
DN: I’m really proud of the response we’ve had as an institution to the employment needs of our students. For example, as soon as the College had decided to move to an online environment and off of our physical campus we knew that there would be a negative impact to the student workers at the College. If no one was on campus, how could they sustain their on-campus jobs?
We had 50 students on payroll and made a concerted effort to make sure they could maintain their employment as we knew they were counting on these jobs. So we partnered with Human Resources and local businesses and moved students in to virtual, micro-internships. The micro-internships allow students to perform various short-term tasks for different companies in need. They learn new skills, keep gainful employment, and are exposed to local jobs and prospective opportunities. It’s been a win-win for all involved.
We also encourage our students to attend online workshops, meet with our career advisors, participate in virtual recruiting events, or explore our entrepreneurship options and services.
OC: How is the Career Center serving local small businesses?
DN: We’re really so happy to be able to serve and support our local small businesses. Our Career Center provides 1:1 advising with business consultants, offers webinars on an array of business topics including the impact of COVID-19 and how to get through this time. We also offer small businesses support to accessing federal loans and grants under the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and provide recruiting services to fill jobs and internships.
I feel that now, more than ever, is our chance to really rise up and serve the community, our students, and businesses supporting our mission—to change lives through innovation, by connecting students & the community to future careers.