Post by Susan Mwarabu
Meet Julie and James!
They are the energetic duo behind the Heads Up Strategies program at Amicus. Julie and James help clients to better navigate the discombobulating process of job seeking through a four-week course designed to help formerly incarcerated clients in their efforts to find and keep employment.
Driven by the need to make a difference in the community, both Julie and James found their calling by joining AmeriCorps, an organization that recruits young people and mobilizes them to help in communities. They were both assigned to Amicus and asked to develop a job preparation program that would bridge the gap between leaving incarceration and obtaining a job. The program would be an extension of Amicus’ Employment Advantage program, which helps inmates prepare themselves for the challenging job market they will encounter after they are released.
Both Julie and James are no strangers to adversity and rejection in their own job searches. In a very candid manner, both Julie and James explained that they each have backgrounds with legal issues that had previously hindered them from obtaining employment. They had both experienced the frustration and disappointment that so many Amicus clients do as they attempt to gain employment.
Starting Heads Up Strategies was a natural choice for them.
Julie and James both knew it wasn’t enough to start a job preparation program. They needed to offer a program that would stand out from the others they had seen before.
In creating Heads Up Strategies, Julie and James chose the best content from a variety of programs such as the Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS) training sessions. Using information gathered from a variety of programs, James and Julie created a curriculum that connected with Amicus’ own pre-release Employment Advantage Program.
The result was Heads Up Strategies: essentially a bridge between Amicus’ Pre-Release programs and its reentry progarm, Reconnect. Heads Up Strategies offers training on resume writing, interview skills, job searches, and more all included in a rigorous four-week curriculum.
Always learning, both Julie and James believe that ongoing training is the key to offering the best services to their clients. They both participate in workshops designed to provide their clients with the latest information in employment opportunities.
Julie and James also take client feedback seriously and constantly look for ways to refine their courses. It is not unusual to find either of them helping individual clients with resumes or job searches outside of Heads Up Strategies. In a nutshell, it is all about the client and the job needs they have.
Because Heads Up Strategies is new, Julie and James are very aware that initial data collection and feedback will be critical to assessing its true impact.
The energy that the two trainers exude is infectious and it is no wonder they have been able to accomplish so much in such a short time. Julie and James continue to offer a pragmatic approach to what can often be an overwhelming process.
In part 2 of Heads Up Strategies, Julie and James share tips on preparing for interviews and answering the dreaded felony question.