As a continuation of our Day in the Life series, we’re taking you behind the scenes at our Goodwill Career Connection Centers to understand the work of our team members who help our mission come to fruition. In this series, we had the chance to explore the work of Andrea Haynes, a career connector for Goodwill of Central Iowa.
Andrea is a thoughtful, passionate and caring member of the team at the Career Connection Center in Des Moines, where she works one-on-one with individuals who are unemployed or underemployed to give them the skills needed to confidently pursue a career, at no charge to them for the services. Andrea is a self-described liberator who lives to find the solutions that free people from ruts they may find themselves in. On top of that, she believes that everyone has the potential to find a fulfilling job that does more than just pay the bills.
When Andrea helps people, she does so from a place of experience. Five years ago, she was working as an administrative assistant at a local corporation. She was complacent in her position but had not yet found her calling. Andrea got along well with a woman in HR, who one day asked her what she wanted to do with her life. Andrea had no answer. That’s when her colleague introduced her to the CliftonStrengths assessment. Through this assessment, Andrea learned that she would enjoy a job where she could help people. She uses this same assessment in her position now to help people find their calling.
When we shadowed Andrea, there were several moments throughout the day where her efforts stood out.
Andrea was setting up for an Interview Essentials class, when a woman arrived 10 minutes early. Andrea used this as an opportunity to learn more about the job seeker. She had recently emigrated from Ghana and was looking for work in childcare services.
To start, Andrea looked at several jobs in the area to tailor the training the woman would receive in the upcoming class. She then clarified the business cultural differences between the woman’s old country and America and how their shared generation has difficulty talking about themselves. Andrea coached on how she can pitch herself as an employee while still feeling comfortable and true to herself.
Learning the Basics
The rest of the class participants soon arrived, and Andrea learns about each of them and their individual goals. One wants to be a business consultant, to develop entrepreneurs and help people achieve their goals. Another is not enjoying his current job and wants to improve on interviewing skills. All come from different backgrounds with different levels of professional involvement, and Andrea expertly weaved the teachings of the class through their life experiences and asked great questions that kept the participants thinking. She then worked with each of them to create their own personalized elevator pitch.
Partway through class, the woman from Ghana revealed that she’s worried that she doesn’t have what it takes to make it in America. Back in her home country, she owned and operated a clothing business, but handed it off to her children so they could provide for themselves. Now, in the United States, she has struggled to get a single interview. She felt that she either isn’t wanted or doesn’t have the necessary skills. Upon hearing this, Andrea walked over and kneeled to get on eye level with her. She emphasized how she would do everything she could to help her and that everyone in the room was there to support her. A couple of participants chimed in to reassure how much they believe in her. Andrea really helped this woman understand what she can bring to the table and make an amazing candidate.
Listen to Andrea discuss finding trust with the participants:
Throughout the class, the participants helped each other understand the concepts put before them. One job seeker even shared an idea that she hoped would be helpful for the Ghanaian woman after class. The tone of support had been set by Andrea for all.
At the end of Interview Essentials, Andrea scheduled each of them for future one-on-one appointments with her to continue the work they had done in class.
The following day, the Career Connection Center held mock interviews for these same participants. They were offered low-pressure interviews with members of the Des Moines business community so they could practice the skills they learned and continue to advance in their journey to employment.
Giving Them Direction
Later in the day, Andrea has a first-time appointment with a jobseeker. The woman is a traveling CNA with a bachelor’s degree in business management and she plans on eventually obtaining her master’s degree. She nervously told Andrea that she has been toying with the idea of changing to a marketing career, as it has always interested her. Andrea then asked a set of questions that helped them pinpoint their efforts. Andrea addressed her in a personal tone, which put the woman at ease. At the end of their meeting, Andrea created a personalized plan for the next several weeks. The woman came in to this appointment with little to no idea of what she should do and now she had a road map in front of her.
This is the type of work that Andrea does on a daily basis. When she meets with jobseekers, she challenges them to expect more for themselves. She believes that everyone deserves the best in life and that they’re all capable of achieving it.
Listen to Andrea discuss finding fulfillment through your work:
When you donate and shop at Goodwill of Central Iowa, you make work like Andrea’s possible. In fact, 85 cents of every dollar earned in our retail stores and through Shopgoodwill.com goes to support our mission of improving the quality of life for all individuals by providing skills training and helping people find jobs. Find the location closest to you or make a monetary contribution today.