Partner Profile: American Job Center Comes to Gateway

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Darlena Young, ambassador for the American Job Centers in South Central CT, works with students facing financial challenges as they look for a new career path.  

The New Haven American Job Center is located at 560 Ella T. Grasso Boulevard. They work closely with the training programs offered by Gateway Community College’s (GCC) Department of Workforce Development & Continuing Education better known as the GREAT Center.  The AJC offers training referrals, career counseling, job listings, and similar employment-related assistance, services that are particularly valuable to those facing a recent layoff.  Designed to provide a full range of assistance to job seekers under one roof, the AJC also has a strong presence in the community.   

Before COVID-19, Young was a fixture at GCC.  She came once a week to run information sessions on AJC services.  She reviewed the job center services, provided an overview for job seekers, administered a math and reading assessment, and introduced students to the training options that are available through a variety of programs.  Her calming presence provided a welcome relief for those facing unemployment and participants left feeling like they had a solid next step.   

“Students feel encouraged,” Young said.  “(Many) didn’t know they were eligible for these services.”  

To help clients seek out new opportunities, Young and other AJC staff will start offering virtual information sessions twice a month for GCC students.  The first virtual session was held on March 2 and a second session will be offered on Thursday, March 18 at 1:00pm.  Thereafter, virtual sessions will be held at 10:00am on the first Tuesday of each month and at 1:00 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month.  Gateway students who attend will be contacted by the AJC Outreach team and fast-tracked into available training and employment services. 

Young often uses her own experience with unemployment earlier in her career to help inspire those needing support.  A client at the AJC, she was offered a unique opportunity to volunteer at the center to help her build new skills sets for her next job.  This experience allowed her to work with clients and she quickly realized she would be good at inspiring others.  While volunteering, she even remembers traveling in the middle of a snowstorm to get to work and her dedication got noticed.  She was later offered a full-time position and eventually promoted to Ambassador, where she recruits new customers and promotes American Job Center programs.  

Since the pandemic started, Young is seeing more and more people recently laid off or out of work altogether.  Many are looking for a new career path or adding new skills to their resume.   

Young said she is looking forward to working with GCC’s GREAT Center students through the virtual presentations and eager for the day when the services can return to campus.  Anyone interested in meeting with Young and other AJC staff for the virtual session on March 18 can join with PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android using the following link:    

Photo attached:  Darlena Young, ambassador for the American Job Centers in South Central CT, works with students facing financial challenges and considering a new career path. 

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