Career Skills Workshop at the Amherst Survival Center

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Article Author: Matt Rigney
Publication Name: Collaborative for Educational Services
Article Date: 6/25/15
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AMHERST, MA – On the evening of Thursday, June 18, 2015, area high school students and adult members of the community joined staff from the Amherst Survival Center to listen to a panel discussion of strategies for successful job searching and interviewing.

Joining the group were Tracey Levy, Program Director of the Survival Center, Matt Rigney, Alternative Youth Programs Director for the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES), Crystal Cartwright, Vocational Coordinator for Amherst Regional High School, and Anne Barnes from Community Action.

Panelists included two employees of University of Massachusetts, Amherst—Margaret Arsenault, Assistant Director for Workplace Learning and Development, and Leslie Fraser, Coordinator of Communications & Campus Career Initiatives. They were joined by Ted Johnston, a former Amherst High School student and Survival Center volunteer who began his working life at UMass as a food services employee, but has moved on to a position with a national retailer.

The panel’s discussion ranged from basic strategies for successful interviewing, to proper attire and how to respond to the subtext of questions being asked by interviewers. Other topics included how the process of applying for jobs and landing interviews has changed since the advent of the Internet, and strategies for breaking through the “online barrier” created by technology that reduces candidates (and employers) to two-dimensional interfaces. The group discussed how to bring the power of human interaction and connection back into the mix.

The Amherst Survival Center began in 1976 in response to a growing phenomenon of poverty and homelessness in central and western Massachusetts. The Center connects residents of Hampshire and Franklin Counties to food, clothing, healthcare, wellness, and community primarily through volunteer efforts. Families and individuals come to the Center for food, clothing, health care, and companionship, and to share their resources, information, concerns, experiences, and expertise. The Survival Center creates an environment where people move beyond a condition of need and where everyone can rely on, support, and accept each other.

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