SNAP E&T Program Lays Groundwork for Long-Awaited Career Change

Wednesday, June 9, 2021
 

Without a clear plan after high school graduation in 2011, Taylor Garcia found herself employed as a care giver.

Taylor pictured herself working in a business setting in data management.  She saw a connection between her interests and skill in dealing with people translating into the field of business.  Yet with no experience or specific skills, making the transition into a business career didn’t seem likely and being a self-described “people pleaser” made leaving a job difficult.  Praise from others about her empathetic nature and caregiving ability didn’t change how she felt about her career trajectory; she knew her dream and reality weren’t a match.  

Despite obstacles that at times seemed insurmountable, she recently landed a customer service job with Eastern Account System in Danbury using skills she developed through the help of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education and Training Program (SNAP E&T) at Gateway Community College (GCC).  SNAP, is a nutrition program that helps low-income individuals and families buy food and stay healthy.  The SNAP E&T program is a free job readiness program offered through Gateway’s Resource Education & Training (GREAT) Center that prepares adults for employment by offering vocational training, career activities, and support services. 

Through her involvement with the SNAP E&T program, Taylor learned that she could qualify for free training for a Business Professional & Office Assistant Training Certificate.  The 21- week certificate program equips administrative support professionals with technical and customer service skills.  Students completing the program are also Nationally Certified in Six Sigma White Belt. 

Taylor said that while she had thought about college over the years, she was nervous to try to further her education since she didn’t feel connected to her high school experience.  She said that she was motivated by her parents, step siblings, cousin, and boyfriend, all of whom went to college and convinced her that she could handle the work.  After enrolling, she soon found the college experience to be manageable due to the supportive environment, a shift from her past experiences.

“The entire class at Gateway was so supportive.  I am very happy with where I am today,” said Taylor, who described her professors, SNAP E&T Coordinator Thomas Gaudioso, and staff members Esther Edwards and Kandace Murray as “amazing.”      

Once Taylor completed the certificate, she targeted her job search on companies seeking candidates with her new skills.  Her newfound confidence paid off when she quickly received an offer from Eastern Account System.  The new job involves data entry, negotiation, and multitasking.  Another rewarding aspect of the position is the ability to eventually work from home, which she appreciates in the current climate.

Gaudioso said Taylor is an example of someone who took advantage of an opportunity to better her employment situation and worked hard throughout the program.  Her work ethic was swiftly rewarded as soon as she completed the certificate. 

“Taylor stayed focused on her professional goals and took advantage of the opportunities in front of her.  She actively applied for jobs and was able to secure a position in her area of training due in large part to her persistence, self-advocacy and networking,” Gaudioso said.  “Taylor admitted that when she was in high school, she did not speak up and take initiative to get the support she needed to succeed.  However, she felt comfortable to do just that at Gateway, which led to her success.”