This new program gives job seekers access to women professionals in the industry of their choice
Angela Guilfoyle grew up knowing she wanted to make a difference. Her grandfather, who was a police officer, dedicated his free time to give back to his community by running the Police Athletic League where kids could get free access to sports and positive role models.
“I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” she says, “where I could do something to open opportunities to people.” Angela today is the program coordinator for JVS SoCal’s Creating Career Connections, a new program that promises to do just that —open opportunities for women looking for insight into career options that would otherwise would not be accessible to them.
“Sometimes, who you know is more important than what you know,” says Angela who, along with WoMentoring program manager, Diane Shapiro, developed a plan to introduce women to other women professionals who are established in their careers.
How Creating Career Connections Works
In a way, this program is kind of like matchmaking. Angela, who has a Master’s in Social Work, interviews candidates who have registered for a consultation through the program’s webpage. She works with each woman on identifying the careers they are looking to explore, the challenges they are facing in their efforts to secure job interviews, and their strengths as motivated individuals who are actively working get ahead in life.
Those who sign up for the program receive coaching and access to resources to overcome these challenges while Angela matches them with up to three professional women who will volunteer their time to conduct informational interviews. Once the meetings take place, it is up to them whether they want to pursue further meetings or stay connected for future networking opportunities.
The Importance of the program
Professional networking is not something that comes easily to most people, especially today, when public events are discouraged, and human contact has decreased due to covid-19 pandemic. Intentionally facilitating these connections can be a life changer for those who have difficulty asking for help, are introverted, or come from underserved communities where access to professionals is scarce.
In a recent Bloomberg Newsweek article in which 15 global cities were ranked for how inclusive they are for career women, Venture capitalist Kara Nortman pointed out how siloed communities in Los Angeles can be. “Because the city is so sprawling, we don’t organically move between neighborhoods the way people in smaller cities do,” she says. “That impacts everything from how we interact with each other to how we get policies enacted at a citywide level.” At JVS SoCal we recognize this as a barrier to equality. Creating Career Connections is a way to address this barrier by giving women in underserved neighborhoods the opportunity to network outside their own environments.
For Angela, her role in Creating Career Connections is her way of modeling the sense of service her grandfather instilled in her. “I realized this work was important when I started having conversations with the women who are struggling,” she says, “they express so much gratitude for the help that we provide.”