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The Center for Work Education and Employment (CWEE), is Colorado’s first 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that assists low-income single families in gaining the skills and education necessary to transition off of public assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, TANF), and gain long-term employment. CWEE’s purpose is to reduce poverty in Colorado by creating self-supporting families.
I reached out to CWEE to participate in their Career Development program because I needed help. I had reached the depths of my despair, not knowing who to turn to for help. All I wanted at the time was a quick fix to my employment problem: I was mentally exhausted from throwing out applications every day without generating a positive response. I was beyond frustrated, but I knew not to let the frustration fester – instead, I channeled all that energy into seeking help.
I thought all I needed was someone to tell me what was wrong with my resume, or fix the way I was presenting myself through my documents. I had to humble myself, swallow any pride I had in my educational or work accomplishments thus far, and face reality.
I came to CWEE with a patient-doctor mentality. I thought they would diagnose my problem, give me a prescription, and send me out the door.
The first day at CWEE was rough. I wanted to bolt. But I decided to keep an open mind and give the program a chance.
I wasn’t afraid to express to Miss Zenzal, one of the instructors, that I was at CWEE because I wanted a job. She very calmly told me that I wasn’t there to get a job. A light bulb went on inside my head. I knew what she meant right away.
There were things that brought me to CWEE, things that I needed to work on, before I could even think of getting a job. I needed to acknowledge and come to terms with what was really holding me back from the career that I desired.
Long story short, I returned to CWEE the second day and never looked back. I went through a self-discovery journey. I recognized that I had something to gain from this program, and that it was designed this way for a reason. The attitude you bring to CWEE is going to determine whether you walk out fulfilled, or go back to your old self, unhappy and unchanged.
Time flew by, and 8 days in Phase 1 of the program felt too quick. Phase 2’s computer literacy training was a piece of cake: I have a degree in computers, but I still learned something I didn’t know in MS Word. That is a new skill in my bag now. Pretty soon, I was in Phase 3, working on my resume and cover letter, interviewing skills, and the application process. I give a lot of credit to the Employment Services team: they are masters of their trade. Networking events at CWEE opened new avenues for me, and mock interviews with people from the finance industry (where I want to wind up) just filled my cup.
Before I even graduated from phase 3, I had a job interview lined up with a financial organization. Many more connections and opportunities keep floating in each day.
If I had to summarize my time at CWEE, it would be with this Thomas Jefferson quote: “If you want something you have never had, you’ve got to be willing to do something you have never done.” I’ve learned to never want to give up on anything before trying it.
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Denver, CO 80204