MassHire Award Finalists Demonstrate Reliability During Uncertain Times

This blog post is the third in a series honoring and highlighting the great work of our MassHire members who were nominated and chosen as finalists for the 2020 MassHire Awards. This blog focuses on the finalists for the Reliability category, including the award winner, MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center for Andrea Reynolds, Workshop Coordinator. MassHire is committed to understanding and valuing the diverse, unique requirements and professional goals of the businesses and people they serve. Nominations for this category were based on answers to the following questions:

  1. How did the work of this individual or team effect innovative, sustainable change and positive outcomes for customers (both businesses and jobseekers), partner staff, community organizations, and/or MassHire colleagues?
  2. How did the nominee hold themself/themselves accountable and execute on their vision?

MassHire Lowell Career Center: Amy Veillette, WIOA Special Programs Supervisor

Amy Veillette, MassHire Lowell Career Center, was nominated for her work with the Northeast Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (NAMC) in recruiting high quality candidates for manufacturing training programs. In this role, Amy is tasked with recruiting candidates that fit strict eligibility requirements, not an easy task with low unemployment (pre-COVID) and negative perceptions of manufacturing careers. Amy has to be creative and persistent to find eligible and interested candidates, and with her colleagues, she has developed a system which has helped overcome recruitment challenges and led to great program success.

In her over 15 years at the MassHire Lowell Career Center, Amy has learned that keeping students motivated is the key to their success. She is also always willing to change things up and adapt when necessary. Recruiting for job training programs is not always easy but by brainstorming with colleagues and being proactive, Amy has found new and innovative ways to find prospective candidates for NAMC programs. For example, Amy does not wait for customers to express interest in the manufacturing training programs, she runs reports and actively engages those coming into the center for career seminars. Amy stays engaged with her clients, helping them succeed in training by addressing barriers that arise and making referrals to community partners as needed.

COVID-19 has impacted the way she works but Amy has found creative ways to persevere. While many manufacturing training programs were shut down in the spring, this summer they were able to restart much of the hands-on trainings. While for the foreseeable future much of Amy’s case management will have to be done virtually, the lessons she has learned and her commitment to her clients will ensure that they not only complete training programs but also gain employment soon afterwards.  

Amy Veillette presented a workshop for the Massachusetts workforce development community on the experience that led to her nomination. Click here to view the PowerPoint.

MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center: Andrea Reynolds, Workshop Coordinator (Reliability Award Winner)

Andrea Reynolds, MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center, was nominated for her leadership role in designing and presenting new workshop offerings for job seekers at the career center. These workshops have included topics such as budgeting, credit scores, and other important financial literacy education offerings. By researching, designing, and presenting new financial literacy and digital tech skills workshops, Amy has expanded the career center’s labor exchange services.  

Andrea has worked hard to collaborate with community partners including the local Community Action Agency and the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office. For example, Andrea brought in Community Action to present information to career center staff on financial counseling services and programs that offer low-income individuals access to short-term, no-interest loans. Then Andrea went to Community Action and trained their staff on career center financial education topics. This is just one example of the many partnerships Andrea has worked hard to foster within the Franklin Hampshire community.

Andrea has also ensured that these new workshops and materials are available online so they can reach more customers, an important goal of the career center. She was doing this before the pandemic hit but now that the career center is serving its customers remotely, her expertise in offering virtual services has been critical. Andrea continues to seek opportunities to improve workshop offerings which in turn improve job seeker skills and job readiness.

The MassHire Franklin Hampshire team, with Andrea Reynolds, Lead Workshop Coordinator, MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center, presented a workshop for the Massachusetts workforce development community on the experience that led to their nomination for Collaboration. Click here to view the PowerPoint and here for accompanying notes.

MassHire Springfield Career Center: Carmen Cartagena, Program Specialist, CIES

Carmen Cartagena, MassHire Springfield Career Center, was nominated in the reliability category for her ability to adapt and succeed to changes in the various employment and training programs Carmen helps to lead at the career center. Much of Carmen’s success has been in her ability to help customers secure meaningful employment, including providing more intensive services to ensure successful outcomes. One example of a customer she helped was a single mom with three children receiving public benefits who was working part-time. Over three months, Carmen worked with this client on goal setting, job search, and access to career center services. After working with Carmen, the customer was able to secure eight interviews, was hired in a full-time position, and with her two jobs has a combined wage of over $15/hour.

Carmen has dedicated over 20 years of her professional life to state and nonprofit work, including working at the Department of Transitional Assistance, MassHealth, and now MassHire Springfield. She believes her success is due to her passion, her love of working with people, and her ability to communicate and develop good relationships with customers, staff, and agency partners. She has learned over the years that when she believes in her customers, and does something special for them, customers begin to believe in themselves and that makes all the difference.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Carmen had to pivot from providing almost 100% in person services to completely virtual assistance for job seekers. Being creative with technology was key. Carmen continues to find new ways to communicate with customers whether through phone, email, zoom or online workshops. While not being able to communicate with customers face to face as been difficult, treating every client with dignity and respect is key, and this has remained Carmen’s top priority even in a virtual world.                      

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