Knowledge acquired through college or trade school is invaluable; classroom and online education equips you with the know-how to build a functioning foundation on whatever career path you choose. But often, how to obtain a desired job is not part of the curriculum, even as student loan payments and a tough economy loom. Though some schools provide career resources, it's really up to you to figure out how to get in the door with a potential employer.
You'll be glad to discover that you're not alone, because the Pikes Peak Workforce Center could be considered a comprehensive, tuition-free school of its own. According to Jeanne Cotter, the Workforce Center's public information officer, "Many people don't understand the variety of services offered ... from hiring events, to youth services, to basic and advanced computer classes, to how to search for jobs on Connecting Colorado."
At its completely accessible state-of-the-art facility set within the Citizens Service Center on Garden of the Gods Road, the federally funded government agency (with oversight by El Paso and Teller counties) offers an average of five free classes per week for those age 14-plus. Topics range from interview prep to tackling self-esteem issues to learning how to use social media effectively in a job search.
Cotter says their two résumé-related classes are their most popular. The first helps job-seekers construct a résumé from scratch, or tackle one that's out-of-date. The second teaches individuals how to improve content to make it more appealing to potential employers. Once a person has completed both of these workshops, the Workforce Center also offers one-on-one résumé review services.
Workshops are either held in a computer lab or in one of four private conference rooms equipped with overhead projectors for PowerPoint presentations. The Workforce Center also offers prospective employees an opportunity to earn a computer skills certificate after completing a 40- to 60-hour, self-paced program supported by certified instructors either online or on-site.
The Workforce Center has no shortage of technological resources available for the 57,000-some people it assists each year. Their resource department alone contains 40 computers (plus a few phones and a handful of printers), while the education services department hosts 80 more in three different labs. Clients may search for jobs through online databases, post résumés, or send e-mails to prospective employers, with support from Workforce Center staff members.
And for those struggling with finances, Cotter says the center provides free web access for job seekers. "Many times when people lose their job," she says, "one of the first things to go is the Internet bill."
Also at no cost to parents in need is a playroom stocked with toys and a television to keep young children busy. Teens who are looking to jump into the workforce have a separate resource center. For those feeling stressed about the process, there's a facilitated counseling group every Monday.
In addition to the main facility, the Workforce Center has five satellite locations in Calhan, Fountain, Monument, Woodland Park and Cripple Creek. Cotter encourages those new to their programs to visit ppwfc.org or attend an orientation meeting, called "H.I.R.E.D."