Stories of Hope
The Career Development Center has worked with thousands of job seekers and career changers in the last 30 years. We provide expert guidance needed to identify and realize career goals, and support and encouragement needed to stay positive and on track.
We also work with local companies, helping them find talent and transitioning displaced employees, and providing spousal relocation services to spouses of new hires.
Read the stories of some of the people and companies we've served.
Mick had countless jobs in the past, but never a career. His most significant job was as a bike messenger in Pittsburgh for 12 years, no real continuity or work based upon a strong skill set. In 2004 Mick started college at the University of Pittsburgh and in 2011 he graduated with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work.
Although Mick had these degrees under his belt, he had no idea how to go about searching for a job.
Mick enrolled in Maturity Works, a United Way-funded program that helps low-income people 45 years or older who are searching for a job.
Mick was partnered with career counselor Justin Kelly, who helped Mick articulate what he wanted out of a career and build a job search campaign aligned with his skills, interests, personality and values. Mick also took several workshops at the CDC, including Resume Writing, Effective Cover Letter Writing, Interviewing, Networking, Job Search Strategies, and Using the Internet to Conduct a Job Search. The workshops, in conjunction with his weekly meetings with Justin, helped Mick pull together the necessary confidence and tools to find and secure a job.
Mick now works as family-based mental health therapist in Pittsburgh.
“I credit the CDC for bringing out my power and helping me make the profound connections I needed to nail the job,” Mick said. “And it wasn’t just any job,” he said, “But the exact job I wanted from the beginning but was unable to express it fully.”
Arlene first took advantage of the Career Development Center's services in 1985 when her position with an area hospital was downsized. She turned to CDC a decade later, and again this year, when after 7 years her position was eliminated due to the current economic climate. Not interested in considering retirement as an option, Arlene began her job search.
"It had been nearly 14 years since I had conducted a full-scale job search," she says. "When you haven't looked for a job for that long, you learn pretty quickly that it's a different world out there."
Arlene found her way back to the CDC through two routes. She called CDC counselor, Joe D'Anna, to let him know she was in the job market. Joe was in her sizeable network -- which she began contacting the same day she lost her job. She then contacted CareerLink, a state agency for the unemployed, and was referred to CDC.
"Losing a job is very upsetting. You need a supportive, uplifting environment to help you stay positive, stay focused," she says.
In addition to working individually with Joe, Arlene attended as many of the CDC's workshops as she could. Joe and his colleagues provide an important source of support, according to Arlene.
"The workshops helped me hone the skills I had, and adapt them to what employers in the current job market are looking for now," she notes. "It was helpful to talk to and network with other workshop attendees, too. I received help and support from every CDC staff member I came in contact with -- from Dorcas in the Resource Center, to Sandy, Rossana and others in the workshops .... and, of course, Joe.
"Honestly, I can't say enough about them. They are all knowledgeable, approachable. They provided the encouragement I needed to maintain a positive outlook and stay on track."
Arlene says, "When I lost my job this summer, I knew I wanted to return to CDC, and called Joe right away. He was really helpful the last time I needed help with a job search." In just 11 weeks, Arlene received a job offer from one of her top choice employers. She is now the director of community outreach and marketing for a local organization offering home health services.
"I'm really enjoying my new job!"
Marvin had spent 25 years working in accounting functions at a number of local engineering firms. When he was laid off, he came to the CDC for help in finding new employment. He was open to the idea of switching industries.
An active CDC participant, Marvin took part in a number of workshops.
He found those about resume writing and job searching via the Internet to be particularly helpful. He also believed that the center's networking meetings provided an important resource for job leads and peer support.
Eventually, his counselor suggested that he apply for a comptroller position advertised at a local non-profit organization. While he hadn't worked in that field before, he decided to apply and he received a job offer from that group.
Marvin has been with his current organization for several months and finds his new position very rewarding.
Susan had been the general manager of a local clothing store for eight-and-a-half years when she was let go. She had worked in the industry since she graduated from college, so she was thoroughly qualified for a new position. However, so many years had passed since she had been in job-search mode that she was unfamiliar with the technology that drives the process today.
A family member familiar with our services suggested that she look into services from the Career Development Center for help in getting on the right track.
When she learned about everything the CDC had to offer a job-seeker, Susan took advantage of as many of the services as she possibly could. She attended every workshop on the CDC's schedule and regularly visited the computer and resource center, where she received training that brought her computer skills up to speed. She also made a point of networking with other job seekers at the center, one of whom ultimately helped her find her new job.
Susan recently was hired as a department manager at a high-end clothing store. She is excited about the new challenges that await her and confident that she will succeed in the job.
After she and her husband divorced, Barbara found herself a single mom of two young children and in dire need of a job. She hadn't worked in more than a decade, and she wasn't interested in returning to her previous profession.
She learned of the Career Development Center and came for help in her job search.
While Barbara was meeting with her CDC counselor, a newspaper publishing company called looking for administrative help in its advertising department. Barbara knew nothing about the publishing industry, and the salary was low, so she was reluctant to consider applying for the position. Her counselor convinced her to go on the interview, if only for the experience she would get from it. She was offered the job on the spot.
Barbara not only landed the administrative job, she was promoted several times in her company and now is its CEO.
Ian was excited to become the chair of the English department at a Pittsburgh-area university, but he was concerned that his wife, Samantha, might have difficulty finding a new job during an economic downturn. Not only was Samantha eager to work in her soon-to-be new home, but the family also relied on her income. The family wouldn't be moving for another two months, but Samantha wanted to get started on her job search as soon as possible.
The university hired the CDC to offer job search assistance to Samantha.
To get started on the job search as quickly as possible, Samantha's CDC counselor set up a phone call to get to know about her and her career interests and experience. Samantha sent a copy of her current resume to the counselor by email, and the counselor tweaked it and circulated it among a number of contacts at local law firms. The resume garnered some interest, and Samantha had phone interviews with three firms, two of which flew her in for in-person interviews.
About two weeks before the scheduled move, Samantha received a job offer as a senior associate working in immigration law. She started two weeks after the family moved into their new home and has enjoyed her work, her colleagues and the firm's atmosphere.
*Name changed to protect client confidentiality, at client's request.
When Amanda's insurance company stopped paying for her prescribed antidepressants, she had to switch to a less expensive, but also less effective, medication. Her mental health deteriorated, and eventually she left her job in the legal field.
After spending several years out of the workforce, Amanda realized that she would be much better off working, especially because she would have access to more affordable health insurance. She was intimidated by the idea of looking for a job and worried that she might become easily discouraged.
She needed help, but she needed to get that help from someone who understood how her mental health would impact her search.
On her first visit to the CDC, Amanda learned about its Work-Able program, which helps skilled professionals who are struggling with mental health issues. She spent most of that first day talking with Julie, the Work-Able coordinator, who gave her an overview of the program and encouraged her to take on various activities at her own pace.
Eventually, Amanda began attending Work-Able workshops and works one-on-one with her Work-Able counselor. Amanda learned strategies to keep her depression from affecting her job search, and, ultimately, her performance in the workplace. She also is receiving expert guidance on developing her resume and cover letters, honing her interviewing skills and how to network and define and wage a successful job search.
Amanda is doing well with her treatment. She sees her psychiatrist and Work-Able counselor on a regular basis, and she has been switched to a new medication that is effective. She eagerly participates in CDC job search activities and feels optimistic that she will find a position in her field.
*Name changed to protect client confidentiality, at client's request.
Local Paper's Story
Amid shrinking ad revenues and declining circulation numbers, a local paper knew they had to get costs in line with revenues. Management instituted a number of cost-control measures such as decreasing the number of sections in the daily edition, but that didn't go far enough. Eventually, the paper was forced to let a number of employees go in order to get out of the red. Those employees had given their best efforts to the paper over the years, and the paper's publisher wanted to do what they could to help their displaced workers get through the transition and more quickly find new employment.
They turned to the CDC for outplacement services.
On the day that the affected employees received notice of their layoffs, CDC counselors went to the publisher's main office to give a short presentation on the kind of services the Center provides. The 10 people who were laid off each got their own individual counselor who worked with them on resumes, cover letters and interviewing skills. Most of the laid-off people had been with the paper for a decade or longer, and they also had the opportunity to attend workshops on various aspects of today's job search environment, such as networking and finding jobs on the Internet.
The laid-off employees benefitted not only from the structure that the CDC provided to their job searches, but from the emotional support provided by CDC staff. Within a few months, half of them had found new permanent employment, and two others secured temporary "bridge" jobs.