woman in pink filling out workforce development workbook at the empowerment center addiction treatment centers garden gazeebo

How We Get Our Clients Back to Work

When our clients enter treatment at The Empowerment Center, (TEC) most are out of work and many have complicated backgrounds of arrest and incarceration. Guiding them in finding work, overcoming barriers, and building careers is an important piece of what we do.

During the first 30 days of TEC’s 5-month program, our sole focus is on addiction treatment and recovery. Clients spend time in group therapy, 1:1 therapy, 12-Step meetings, and similar sessions. While they help with light chores, like preparing meals and cleaning common spaces (and also participate in the occasional off-site excursion) – much of their time is spent settling into their new home environment and centering around their therapeutic goals.

TEC’s program promotes a gradual reintegration into society. One of the first integration steps is finding a job – we call our program Workforce Development. It’s a top priority for everyone’s second month at The Empowerment Center.

Here’s what our supportive services look like:

Workforce Development: An Overview

During the first 60 days at The Empowerment Center, clients participate in Workforce Development programming 3 days a week. We take them through the entire job search process, beginning with assessing their interests and skills. We talk to them about their professional experiences and help determine what their next steps will look like.

Workforce Development prepares our clients to be successful in their searches. We go through resume worksheets together, breaking down what’s expected for each section of a resume and guiding them through the “bullet point-action word-achievement” format that traditionally works best. We offer a choice of templates and support each client in setting up their resume in our computer lab. Next, we coach them through responses to common interview questions, conducting 1:1 mock interviews when needed. We let them know what to expect in an interview and focus on teaching soft skills, to give everyone their best chance at coming across confidently and professionally. We encourage our women to research the companies they’re applying at, determine which are good fits, and send follow-up emails. Finally, we bring in guest speakers from employment agencies to share their job-seeking guidance and skillsets.

If this advice and process sounds familiar – it should. Our Workforce Development staff’s backgrounds include running college career services programming and human resources recruitment.

woman in pink reading "employment 101" workbook pages with grassy lawn in background

Supporting Clients with Histories of Incarceration

For many of our clients, having a history with the justice system makes every aspect of looking for work more complex. That’s why the wrap-around services we offer are tailored to meet their specific needs.

Women who arrive at The Empowerment Center they typically have very little with them. Often, the first step of their job search is acquiring the ID documents they’ll need to begin work. To help them, we start with group trips to the DMV to sort out necessary paperwork. Next, we’ll provide donated clothes, including the professional attire they’ll need for interviewing and working.

While legal histories don’t always come up in interviews, for women with longer employment gaps, it’s unfortunately inevitable. We help them practice responses to questions about their pasts, which can include acknowledging challenges and focusing on what’s more important – the changes they’ve made to remedy them and the professional goals they’re working towards. For clients who feel apprehensive about returning to the workforce, we’ll support them with connections to entry level positions. These include relationships we’ve built with local employers who understand that people need second chances, ranging from family-run local businesses to sympathetic warehouse owners and grocery franchises.

Bill running workforce development programming at the empowerment center's addiction treatment center, bill in center of photo and two female students on sides of photo

Jobs vs Careers

Sometimes, the need for short term work doesn’t quite align with our clients’ long-term goals. And that’s OK. While some are looking for restaurant, warehouse, and customer service roles – others are interested in pursuing something different.

For these women, we’ll work both on applying for faster-hiring positions and planning towards big-picture goals.

Nevada Works is a state program that’s providing short-term training in range of fields, including courses in logistics, healthcare, IT, manufacturing, and other areas. Each training course was developed based on employer roundtables and feedback, ensuring the skills offered are strong matches for open positions. While the program doesn’t guarantee a job, it increases the likelihood of scheduling interviews.

Similarly, The Empowerment Center supports our clients in returning to school, often beginning with coursework at Truckee Meadows Community College. Several of the women we’ve profiled in these newsletters are current TMCC students. Jasmin is working towards her AAS in Culinary Arts, taking a combination of business and culinary classes with the aim of opening a restaurant. Heather is not only studying welding, but working part time at TMCC as an Instructor’s Assistant. Her plan is to earn her Bachelors degree so she can become a welding instructor. For women like Jasmin and Heather, The Empowerment Center provides support in accessing grants and scholarships to help them progress in their new lives.