“Career Ready” for Success

CITC partner Cook Inlet Housing Authority launches job-seekers into full-time employment

CITC partners like Cook Inlet Housing Authority help Career Ready participants gain employment experience–and sometimes hire the interns with whom they work.

Jeff Walker has always been the kind of person who wants to work. The problem was, the jobs just weren’t there.

By 2013, he’d achieved his two-year degree in business management, working at customer service jobs while raising two daughters on his own, and he was ready for full-time work in a profession that would help him advance. But despite his education — despite his drive — he was struggling to find the kind of job that would lead to a career.

That’s when he found out about Career Ready, a CITC internship program designed to get participants involved with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) the skills and experience they need to secure permanent work. CITC relies on partners aligned with its organizational mission to provide these employment opportunities. In Jeff’s case, he found an internship with CITC sister organization Cook Inlet Housing Authority (CIHA).

“The CITC Career Ready program — what we call Career Builder here at CIHA — is an integral part of our work,” said Carol Gore, CIHA President and CEO. “The impact to CIHA is huge. By investing in our people to help them gain experience, we’re is benefiting from their investment in us.”

CIHA’s investment in Jeff paid off:  Just one week in, he was asked to apply for a full-time job.

“As soon as I got to CIHA, I worked hard, always asking what else I could do. It’s just my nature,” Jeff explained. His supervisors noticed and encouraged him to apply for an open position in the finance department. “I felt I hadn’t proven myself yet, but the folks here encouraged me.”

“I wanted to give my daughters the things I didn’t have as a kid. The house, yard, family. I’m happy because I’m successful. Career Ready was the first step to all of that.”

Jeff was hired as a senior administrator in finance that fall. Four years later, he’s created a career for himself. Today, he’s a lead accounting technician in accounts payable, managing two staff and acting as the go-to for employees’ questions about invoices.

His position at CIHA also put him on the path to buying his first home. As a participant in CIHA’s Down Payment Assistance Program, which helps increase home ownership for eligible individuals, Jeff was able to save enough money to put a down payment on a house for him and his two daughters.

Career Ready provides CITC participants like Jeff Walker with job experience that can lead to full-time employment with a CITC partner. Jeff started as an intern with CIHA; today, he’s the lead accounting technician.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for me,” Jeff said. “Growing up, I had two alcoholic parents, I moved around a lot — my childhood was rough. I dropped out of school in the ninth grade and was on the streets. But then my uncle took me in, and that was when I decided I would be successful. I pushed myself to finish school and I graduated. Straight out of school, I had my first child, and my motivation was to be a good father after that.

“I wanted to give my daughters the things I didn’t have as a kid. The house, yard, family. I’m happy because I’m successful. Career Ready was the first step to all of that. I think it’s a great program.”

“The program would be impossible without partners like CIHA,” said Holly Morales, Director of CITC’s Employment Training and Services Department. “CIHA is an excellent partner because they truly understand the CITC mission and their values align with ours. They really want to see our participants succeed, and they provide the support that helps make that happen. CIHA’s continued employment of Career Ready participants after the program ends shows how much they have invested in the success of their interns.”

CIHA has been a CITC Career Ready partner since 2008 and has hosted over 130 interns; nine of those individuals went on to find full-time permanent work at CIHA, just like Jeff.

Learn more about Career Ready and other programs offered by the Employment Training and Services Department here, or call (907) 793-3300.