Step In to Work: Kristen’s Story
Kristen* first reached out to Vermont Works for Women in 2013 when she was just 22 years old, a single mother of a 6 year old, recovering from alcohol addiction, with recent criminal justice involvement. At the time, she saw herself as a community college dropout who had very little work experience. It was then that she was connected to Vermont Works for women and enrolled in our 12-week long Transitional Jobs program, now known as Step In to Work. In Kristen’s words, it was thanks to the support of Vermont Works for Women (VWW) that “I gained confidence, self-esteem, and self-respect and learned to forgive myself for the bad choices I made in the past.”
After completing Transitional Jobs, VWW hired provided Kristen with an on-the-job experiences as an administrative assistant intern for several months to allow her to continue to develop her skills. At the end of the internship, Kristen was immediately hired as a front desk receptionist by Yankee Medical, who were impressed by her resume and interview. While it was a helpful first step, Kristen soon moved to a better-paying job with Vermont Health Connect. She successfully worked there for almost 4 years before leaving to give birth to her daughter. Not ready for a full-time position after maternity leave, she reached back out to VWW for guidance, and the VWW job developer connected her with a part-time job at a property management company.
In 2018, when Kristen was ready for the next step in her career, she again reached out to VWW. VWW encouraged her to apply for a Support and Services at Home coordinator position at Burlington Housing Authority (BHA), even though Kristen was hesitant because the position required a Bachelor’s degree, which she didn’t have. With that encouragement and prep work with VWW, Kristen applied, did well in the interview, and was offered the job. However, the position was 40 hours/week and Kristen found herself challenged to manage that while working another part-time job and parenting. Again, VWW encouraged and guided Kristen in negotiating her hours down to 35 hours/week, which BHA was happy to accommodate. Kristen has been at that job for a year now and feels that it’s truly a good fit.
Kristen is also excited about the 5 hour/week Breastfeeding Support Peer Counselor position she’s taken on with Vermont’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in addition to her role at BHA. Having been a young mother herself, she loves helping other young mothers navigate breastfeeding and the many other stresses of new motherhood.
Looking back, Kristen reflects,
“Once I began surrounding myself with people who cared about me, believed in me, cheered me on and saw value in me, I began to see value in me too.”
What was the economic impact of this journey? In 2013, Kristen was living with her mother before moving into a Section 8 apartment in 2014. She had Medicaid and a child care subsidy, and she supported herself with Reach Up cash assistance and 3Squares (food stamps). Vermont Works for Women has been working with Kristen for 6 years now, teaching her new skills, building up her confidence, and ultimately helping her to change her life. The journey to economic stability is not always an easy one, nor a straight line. VWW provided Kristen with a foundation of skills, experience, and confidence to help her take that first step, and also remained in contact and available to support her throughout her journey.
Today, Kristen receives no state assistance, she and her partner recently bought a house, and she is at the highest paying job of her career with full benefits.
*Name changed to protect identity of participant
Do you know a woman looking for a good job?
Step In to Work is now available in Burlington and St. Albans!
- Develop professional skills
- Gain on the job work experience
- Receive one-on-one help with job applications and placement
- Access ongoing support after job placement
- 90% of all participants find employment upon completion!
To learn more or apply, contact: Heather Newcomb at (802) 655-8900 ext. 114 or firstname.lastname@example.org