Keisha White

In the early 2000s, Keisha White enjoyed her job coordinating sales for a NYC jewelry manufacturer, JewelAmerica. She learned about the industry, worked hard, and was promoted three times. Then, in 2008, the Great Recession hit. Her company was acquired and she was laid off.

“It got really hard,” White recalls. “I had a baby. I looked for jobs. I became certified as a nursing assistant but couldn’t find work. At one point, my kids and I were evicted from my apartment because I could not find a job.”

 

She struggled, and relied on public assistance. She enrolled in jewelry design school, and received her Accredited Jewelry Professional Diploma. Then she started taking courses at Westchester Community College, intending to pursue a nursing career. She volunteered at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center, worked at a drug treatment facility, and learned about credentialing while working in the medical staff office. She earned her Certified Nursing Assistant license in 2014. Eventually, she realized a career in nursing wasn’t for her. At that point, White says, she felt lost.

“I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” says White.

She saw a flyer promoting the Jobs Waiting program. “The program was supposed to provide training for careers in healthcare, but not necessarily the clinical side. That appealed to me,” she said. “I had experience in healthcare, but wasn’t aware of the other options in the industry. So I gave it a shot.”

That was in 2016. Today, White is working at in a job she loves—as a Talent Acquisition Coordinator in the Human Resources Department at Montefiore Medical Center. And she says it’s all thanks to Jobs Waiting.

“This program enabled me to get back on my feet after a long time. The techniques and training paid off for me tremendously.”

What worked, says White, was the chance to share stories with her fellow participants from her being unemployed with those who were in the same situation.

“My instructor, Sharon Smalls, my career coach, Lillian Morales, and my boot camp class—all helped me to restore faith in myself. When you’re unemployed for so long, you lose self-esteem. As a group, we became more positive about ourselves. We learned how to be more confident. We learned how to feel deserving of opportunity.”

That new-found confidence helped White pursue a new career direction. With the tuition support from the Jobs Waiting program, she enrolled in a Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) certification course at Fordham University. She was hired for a temporary work tryout at Montefiore, which allowed her to gain on-the-job skills in onboarding new hires. When a position opened up on the team, she was hired full-time.

White says she wouldn’t be where she is today without the support of the Jobs Waiting team.

“The program was like a beacon of hope for those who have been out of work for a lengthy period of time, and long for a stable career. What I learned in the program continues to apply to my every day life.”

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