15 Sep Beyond the Job Search
Alaska’s People provides career exploration, education opportunities, job experience, and more
Tyler White didn’t think of himself as homeless. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, he had moved out of his mom’s house; he had been sleeping on friends’ couches, living with friends’ parents, and getting support from his older brother.
Three years past the pandemic, though, he was sitting on an inflatable mattress in a friend’s guest bedroom, scrolling the internet, and spiraling. What was he doing with his life? Where should he start? How could he get help?
“The first thing that came to mind was CITC,” Tyler recalled. “I always had them on my radar, even when I was younger, because of all the programs for Native people. In that moment, I was like, I have to do this.”
When someone like Tyler—who was ready to start a career but did not have a clear direction—connects with Alaska’s People, workforce development coordinators are there to support exploration.
“We do employment assessments and look at the areas each person is interested in, then talk about options,” clarified BreeAnn Davis, Alaska’s People senior manager.
In Tyler’s case, watching YouTube videos had sparked an interest in learning how to cook. Alaska’s People placed him in a barista apprenticeship at Café Di’eshchin, the coffee shop and lunch spot located in CITC’s Nat’uh Service Center. Here, he developed an even greater interest in growing his kitchen skills.
The Motivation to Do More
Even though he moved out of his mom’s house at a young age, Tyler said, he didn’t really know how to be on his own. “I’ve always been told, You just gotta learn how to do this. I’m like, but how?”
With encouragement from BreeAnn and other Alaska’s People staff, Tyler was motivated to find himself appropriate housing. His search brought him to the Shiloh Community transitional housing program for 18- to 24-year-olds who are completing their education and/or looking for work. The program also offers its participants practical skills to help ease the transition into independent living.
“I’m getting help with things I should have learned years ago,” Tyler described. “They’re helping me learn and encouraging me to be independent, but it’s all at my own pace, and if I need help, they’re there for me.”
As Alaska’s People assisted Tyler with exploring his career opportunities, it became clear he would need some training. With just a month before classes were scheduled to start at the Alaska Vocational Technical Center (AVTEC), the whole Alaska’s People team rallied, recalled BreeAnn.
“There was a lot to do, and we were helping every way we could.”
Tyler completed AVTEC entrance testing in the Alaska’s People career center with staff by his side. BreeAnn and other employees also helped him complete enrollment paperwork and to apply for room and board at AVTEC.
Once Tyler moved to the Seward-based technical school, Alaska’s People staff continued checking with him virtually to ensure the transition was going well and that he had the support he needed.
“Tell Us Where You Want to Go”
Before long, Tyler was set to graduate. Once again, he turned to Alaska’s People to find work. Within a week of graduating, Tyler was interviewing with Denali Universal Services; the North Slope facilities management company hired him for a kitchen position almost immediately.
Today, Tyler has a job working in the kitchen, doing dishes, stocking shelves, and helping serve dinner—but he’s hoping to move into a cook position when the opportunity opens up. He credits his time with Café Di’eshchin with helping him develop the organizational skills and familiarity with prep work that laid the foundation for his AVTEC certification and his current work.
“I know I have the experience to apply, once a cook position opens up,” he said. “Without CITC, I think I’d be working somewhere that didn’t connect me to my passion. I’m glad I reached out.”
“We help a lot of different people, and we meet each person with a clean slate and let them tell us where they want to go,” added BreeAnn. “Tyler didn’t have culinary arts in mind at first—but getting to try it and having the opportunity to train, is what helped him move down that pathway.”
Connect with Alaska’s People to find your career path! CITC’s career development department offers training, scholarships, interview and resume prep, apprenticeships, and more to get you started.