At last month’s groundbreaking ceremony for the New Hampshire Job Corps Center, Secretary Tom Perez spoke about the importance of “soft skills” and why communication, networking, enthusiasm, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking and professionalism aren’t soft things at all. Businesses across the nation have identified soft skills as crucial to the hiring and employment success of all workers.
It reminded me of a young woman, Myasia Williams, who grew up in Staten Island, N.Y., and had never really understood the bigger picture until she enrolled at Loring Job Corps Center in northern Maine. “Back then, I was a very shy person,” Williams said. “If you got me to say three words to you, you were on a roll.”
But as she started going to classes in her career area — Certified Nursing Assistant — and meeting other students at the center, she slowly began to open up. Soon she was involved in just about every activity on campus, from the Student Government Association to serving as a residential assistant. As she became a familiar face around the center, other students started coming to her for advice.
Teamwork, mentoring, joining a community – these are all very important parts of the Job Corps experience. Williams graduated from Job Corps in August and is now working toward a double major in business and accounting at Northern Maine Community College. The college’s faculty recently selected her as the student of the year.
Williams hopes to use her accounting, business and Certified Nursing Assistant skills to someday become the CEO of a children’s hospital. That’s a big dream enabled by some of the “little things” she learned at Job Corps.
Grace Kilbane is the national director of Job Corps.
Editor’s note: Job Corps is seeking new applicants ages 16 to 24 for its national career training and education program at 125 campuses across the country. Residential and nonresidential slots are available for the self-paced federal program. This is an ideal opportunity to gain education, career training, and employability skills for eligible low-income individuals who may be looking for a steppingstone to a community college or for those who need additional support to pursue a community college degree.