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GROW Your Career | Work Force Development

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Resolution: Do something to improve career prospects.

If you’re thinking of changing your career, let this be the year.

By Barbara Pash

DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016

Those of us who are dissatisfied with our jobs often greet the New Year with a repeated resolution: This is workforce_developmentthe year to make a change. For some, that may involve polishing up a resume and tweaking the LinkedIn profile. Others may be looking for new training, an advanced degree, a certificate in a specialized field that will make a resume stand out. Barbara Pash looks at local resources that can help. Plus, she visits Getting Ahead, a program that helps its clients reach economic sustainability.

Linda Ostovitz has an entrepreneurial spirit. So do other women in Howard County who have taken the self-employed route. “They have an idea what they want to do,” Ostovitz, president of the Business Women’s Network of Howard County, says of members, often small business owners. “They just need help getting there.”

If 2016 is the year you change your career, you are in luck. The county has a number of resources, often free, to help you get there. Besides the Business Women’s Network, the Howard County Office of Workforce Development, a county agency, partners with the Columbia Workforce Center, a state agency, to point you in the right direction.

The Workforce Development office and the Workforce Center offer career counseling, job skills workshops and referrals to other agencies and local community colleges for licensing and certification, if needed.

Many clients are seeking careers in health care, information technology (IT) and project management, fields that offer a range of different jobs. In health care alone, jobs are available in medical coding, as a patient care technician or nursing assistant, not to mention hospital administration and associate and bachelor’s nursing degrees.

But a career path varies with the individual and often depends on the time and money available, staffers say. One client, for example, a stay-at-home mother with an outdated computer science degree, took an online training series, got IT security certification from a local community college and, after a customized job search, landed the first job she’d had in 12 years.
Another client, a retired federal government worker with a high school diploma, retooled her office skills to get a job in health care. A third client, a female military veteran, was looking to transfer her military training to a career in criminal justice or nursing.

For women who choose to be self-employed, the nonprofit Business Women’s Network has monthly lunches on topics like marketing yourself and evening networking events hosted by members at their offices or shops.

“We have so many different kinds of business members, you can get an idea what a business is like,” says Ostovitz, an attorney.

Wendy Slaughter, of Wendy Slaughter Team of ReMax 100, says that real estate is a popular career for women who want to be self-employed. However, the field is commission-based and it can take three to five years to build clients and income.

Most brokers’ offices offer real estate licensing classes. Once licensed, you sign up with an office as an agent. “Researching brokerages is important. Each has a different model, and commissions vary,” says Slaughter.

The Howard County Board to Promote Self-Sufficiency, true to its title, works with county programs and nonprofit agencies to reduce poverty, improve incomes, establish stability in clients’ lives and help them reach their goals, whether financial, educational and/ or spiritual or mental health.

In 2013, the board launched the Getting Ahead program (see The Road Ahead, next page) in Howard County. Based on the popular book, “Bridges Out Of Poverty,” the program guides clients through a self-assessment process, according to Lisa Jablonover, a volunteer on the board and chair of its Getting Ahead Committee.

While the program’s emphasis is the county’s poor, even Jablonover is surprised at the clients it enrolls. “We have a number of whose income you wouldn’t think would need a program like this,” she says.

The program has been so successful that the board may expand it. “At the request of Getting Ahead graduates, we are looking into getting mentors,” she said. “They’d like to stay in contact with someone affiliated with the program.”

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