By LINDA CHION KENNEY
The newly opened Job Connection Center inside the Goodwill Riverview Superstore on Big Bend Road is a one-stop shop for free job search and recruitment services, including information about 2020 U.S. Census jobs open in the Tampa Bay area.
“If you need people to work for your company, you need to connect here,” said retiree Gloria Buchanan, who as a census recruiter met with job hopefuls at the Job Connection meeting room Nov. 20. “They’ll make this beautiful space available to you, and it’s a central location where people can [seek and apply for jobs] in a non-threatening environment. It’s a beautiful facility.”
Census recruiters will be back at the Goodwill Superstore on Nov. 27 and Dec. 4, 11 to 3 p.m., reviewing how to apply online for jobs ranging in pay from $16.50 to $24 per hour. Jobs available are for recruiting assistants, clerks, office operations, supervisors and census-takers.
Meanwhile, the Job Connection Center is open 11 to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, for job seekers of all ages and abilities, looking for everything from first-time jobs to executive positions.
It’s a place for people like veteran Deniqa McGill, who said she’s been out of the workforce for a bit — but now it’s time to get back in. “I just came here to shop, but then I heard from an associate they have a Job Connection Center and that I should check it out,” she said. “It’s a very good resource if you’re looking for a job. Nine out of 10 times this place is going to help your search finding a job.”
Hard to miss with a bright blue sign overhead, the glass-enclosed resource room in the center of the store is equipped with Internet access and four computer workstations. It sits adjacent to the community room, which is used for training, job fairs and other meetings.
The center is stocked with flyers and pamphlets for such things as hot jobs, government jobs, young adult jobs, continuing education, community resources and recruitment events and job fairs.
Free skill-builder workshops cover such topics as Career Exploration, Digital Learning, Financial Literacy, Mastering the Interview, Job-Seeking Techniques, Overcoming Barriers and Resume and Cover Letter Writing. The Kaleidoscope workshop covers what it takes to begin or return to higher education or training programs, as well as goal-setting, time management and career exploration.
As an employment specialist for Goodwill Industries-Suncoast, Raymond Steward provides one-on-one coaching at the Riverview Job Connection Center, where since July “more than 800 resources and services have been provided,” he said. “And we continue to grow.”
“We get a large range of clients with a wide range of educational background and work experience, from having none to having three pages worth of work experience,” Steward added. “I’ve seen it all, from the college dropout to the person seeking work as a chief financial officer.”
Whether a person has a criminal background or is a retiree, looking for full or part-time work, changing careers or re-entering the workforce after a hiatus, Steward said he is ready to serve. He found his own job after seeking a post-military job true to the values he embraced while serving in the U.S. Air Force.
“The mission of Goodwill is a great fit for me, to help people reach their full potential through the dignity of power and work,” Steward said. “That goes in line with my values while I was with the military and, generally, as well, with my principle to help others.”
Chris Ward is director of marketing for Goodwill Industries-Suncoast, which covers a 10-county area in West Central Florida, including Pinellas County, where a Job Connection Center opened three years ago in St. Petersburg. The Riverview Job Connection Center opened in July.
“The idea is to bring services to people in the community and make it easier for them to get a job or to get a better job,” Ward said. Services like this “are made possible when we sell goods in our stores,” she added. “This is an example of one of the services funded 100 percent by Goodwill.”
Other services include helping people with disabilities gain employment and, for people coming out of correctional facilities, residential re-entry centers that provide job, parenting and GED assistance.
The Job Connection Center in the Goodwill Riverview Superstore is at 10739 Big Bend Road. For more information, visit goodwill-suncoast.org/job-connection-center, email JobConnection@goodwill-suncoast.com or call 813-302-9405.
For information about 2020 U.S. Census job openings, visit 2020census.gov/jobs or call: 1-855-JOB-2020.