Workability provides fine networking

AK Pachla, Copy Editor

For more than twenty years, Workability at Bakersfield College has made networking with employers in Kern County easier for students with barriers to hiring. About once a month, the Workability Advisory Board meets to evaluate students currently engaged with the Workability program, a BC job placement service specifically for disabled and divergent students.

The board is made up of community leaders and business associates representing area interests, including the California Department of Rehabilitation, the Western States Petroleum Association, Bakersfield College, and the Kern County Department of Human Resources. Students enrolled in the program are given the opportunity to experience a mock job interview from people who know what employers are looking for, and offer the “candidates” real-time encouragement and feedback to help them hone their job-landing skills.

Workability specialists Denise Crawford and Rudy Gutierrez meet one on one with each student, advising them on all the aspects of a good job interview, from hair and clothes to possible questions and the value of eye contact. After practice and preparation, the prospect is ready to face the board.

Computer science major and Workability student Thomas Casares initially described the experience as “nerve wracking,” but admitted that once he settled into the experience, it was very helpful. “Once you’re in there, it’s a lot easier than it seems.” Casares says the thing he found most useful was the feedback. Hearing directly that he absolutely should put more of his accomplishments on his resume. “I know a lot of companies see the resume, but if it doesn’t list a lot of stuff, they go on to the next person.”

Casares is glad for the opportunity to practice at interviewing, saying, “It took a load off my shoulders.”

Workability specialist Crawford explains that this lessening of pressure is exactly the point, and the reason she, her colleague Gutierrez, and the members of the advisory board are so diligent about creating the opportunity. For some students, making a high level of social connection while maintaining ultimate control of the conversation is difficult, and can result in prospective employers making snap judgments against them in hiring.

Crawford says Workability is operating as that social buffer, facilitating the interaction between job seeker and hiring manager to the greatest extent possible. “Those kinds of connections are found through networking, and that’s what we provide.”