Creating Careers

CITC’s new Job Developer connects job seekers with lasting work

CITC Job Developer Viola Smith meets with representative of NANA Management Services to create career opportunities for CITC participants.

CITC Job Developer Viola Smith meets with representatives of NANA Management Services to create career opportunities for CITC participants.

When an employer needs to fill an open position fast, she usually calls an employment agency — then winds up paying a fee, often for an employee who views the position as only temporary.

That’s why CITC Job Developer Viola Smith finds herself opening a lot of her conversations with, “We’re not an agency!”

“That’s my pitch when I first contact a potential partner,” she described. “We don’t have a placement fee; that’s often their first question. Once they know that, you immediately see their minds working on how we can work together. That’s the advantage for them and us: We can fulfill an employer’s needs and help our CITC participants live sustainable lives at the same time.”

Viola came on board with CITC earlier this year for one purpose: to develop partnerships with local businesses, organizations, and corporations that would lead to full-time, permanent jobs for CITC participants. That was the vision of Employment Training and Services Department Director Holly Morales when she created the new position.

“We’re making sure that our Alaska Native partners and corporations are involved with our mission.” – Viola Smith

“We saw the shift that was happening in the Alaskan economy — lots of oil jobs that were going away,” Holly said. “We thought if we could find someone to go into the community and talk to employers about CITC’s role in helping people find meaningful and sustainable employment, we could either find or create the kinds of jobs our participants are looking for.”

Since joining CITC, Viola has connected with roughly 50 employers, from Alaska Native corporations like Calista Corporation, to nonprofit organizations, to for-profit companies like bty Dental. She educates potential partners about CITC’s mission and the services the organization provides, then explores the kinds of jobs CITC participants could find at each particular employer.

“I think about the skill level of our people and where they’re at before I approach a business or organization,” Viola explained, pointing out that many CITC participants seek entry-level opportunities, like administrative or receptionist positions. She identifies employers, like NANA Management Services, who have a significant need for entry-level employees.

“We also have a number of skilled participants who are out of jobs because of the changing economy,” Viola added. “So we’re also continuously trying to find those types of jobs, especially seasonal positions right now.”

She’s also developing partners who can provide additional training to CITC participants. Recently, the rapidly growing bty Dental — which just opened its twelfth Anchorage location in Mountain View — expressed interest in hiring employees who could be trained to become dental assistants.

In addition to meeting one-on-one with employers, Viola frequently attends job fairs and creates opportunities for employers to be active at the Nat’uh Service Center.

CITC Job Developer Viola Smith works with recruitment officers like Jennifer Paul and NAME, of NANA Management Services, to create new job opportunities for CITC participants.

By partnering with recruitment officers like Jennifer Paul (center) and Wendy Manninen (right), of NANA Management Services, Job Developer Viola Smith furthers CITC’s mission while also creating sustainable careers for participants.

“We’re looking forward to upcoming job fairs hosted on the CITC campus this summer,” said Jennifer Paul, senior director of recruiting at NANA Management Services. “Working with Viola to connect job seekers with employers in our state has been a wonderful experience, and we’re excited about the continued partnership between us and CITC.”

Soon, visitors to CITC will see NANA Management Services actively recruiting on the third floor; similarly, CITC sister organization Southcentral Foundation has already been recruiting directly from CITC. “We’re excited they’re willing to do that,” Viola said. “We’re making sure that our Alaska Native partners and corporations are involved with our mission. A lot of our participants are shareholders of regional and village corporations, and we want to make sure they see the opportunities available with those corporations.”

For years, CITC has worked to equip individuals with the skills they need to find jobs and to support participants in their search for employment. But by actively helping to connect people with managers who are seeking employees now, Viola said, CITC is helping participants create their own future.

“Usually these positions are full-time jobs, and it’s a success story, in the end,” Viola explained. “I’m a big-picture thinker, and I hope our participants can be, too — that they can see where they’re at, learn as much as they can, and think not just about landing a job, but building a career.”

Interested in partnering with CITC to find dedicated employees? Contact Viola Smith at (907) 793-3359 or

Looking for employment? Come visit CITC’s Alaska’s People Career Development Center on the third floor of the Nat’uh Service Center to connect with a job coach.