It’s often said it’s not what you know, but who you know, and in the case of Branesha Julene Clay, getting to know JVS SoCal has been life-changing.
Branesha is a single mom of two teenage daughters, 16-year-old Shamara and 15-year-old Diamond. She worked in the security field for 17 years trying to make ends meet while also attending college to get ahead. Most recently, she served as a security guard for a hospital where she didn’t feel recognized or respected. When she witnessed and reported an inappropriate situation that went unaddressed, she knew it was time to move on.
At the time, Branesha was living in housing for low-income families through the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles. As part of its Family Self-Sufficiency Program that aims to help clients like Branesha to move off housing assistance, she was invited to an event that included a presentation on CareerWork$ Medical, one of JVS SoCal’s free eight-week vocational training courses.
“I was looking at other positions that would be better for me,” says Branesha. “I wanted to help people instead of enforcing things and decided the clerical route would be best. I decided to go to JVS because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone after 17 years to do something different. It’s been an uncomfortable transition, but JVS really prepared me.”
Branesha worked a swing shift at the hospital from 2:30-10 p.m. so she could participate in the CareerWork$ Medical online classes from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. She also completed assignments outside of class like learning medical terminology.
“I definitely felt prepared,” says Branesha about the JVS program. “They helped me clean up my resume and get ready to apply for jobs. We did mock interviews with people who gave good feedback. The instructor was also really good and always accessible. We built a camaraderie within the class with peers helping peers.”
With her associate’s degree from Los Angeles Southwest College (she graduated with honors and is now working toward a bachelor’s degree in Business Management at Devry University and CareerWork$ Medical certificate in hand, Branesha began her job search. JVS opened a door for her to interview with RadNet, the largest outpatient medical imaging network in the U.S., and this past December, she landed a patient service representative position at a clinic.
“Even though the position is entry level, it can grow to more as I gain experience and I can apply for management positions down the road,” Branesha says. “JVS was instrumental in giving me a start and a foot in the door. At the end of the day, it’s up to you what you do with it.”
Today, Branesha answers phones, sends reports to doctors, prepares patient files, checks them in for exams, takes payments and more. In everything she does, she aims to be kind and provide good customer service so patients have a positive experience. And they’ve taken notice—she’s even received some thoughtful gifts and shining Yelp reviews.
“It’s been life-changing in the sense that I’m doing something completely different from what I was before and feel like I’m in a better position,” Branesha adds.
Branesha had such a great experience with her JVS SoCal vocational training program that she told a friend at church about it. This friend has since completed the JVS HealthWorks certified nurse assistant program. “It’s very hard to transition to something else when you don’t have the experience,” she says. “When you have a JVS certificate, employers know you have been trained. Also, JVS has the connections in the field, because it’s not what you know but who you know, and I know JVS!”