McHenry County Workforce Network
Success Stories 2016
Below are some of our 2016 program success stories!
Dena was laid off after 13 years working as a maintenance administrator for a local phone company. She decided to make a career change, choosing to pursue a Paralegal Associate’s degree from Harper College, with WIOA funding for her training.
Dena pursued her training with determination, attending school full-time and maintaining excellent grades throughout. Dena faced a number of financial challenges due to her extended period of unemployment while attending school. While in training, she experienced the loss of two close family members, and celebrated the birth of her first grandson, Ethan.
As Dena reached the end of her training, she participated in a WIOA-funded work experience at the McHenry County Public Defender’s Office. Dena appreciated the opportunity and indicated that it was a great experience for her. Dena also applied and trained to be a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer. As a CASA volunteer, she will be assigned to advocate for a child whose family is going through court proceedings.
Dena graduated with her Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Harper College in May of 2016. She was accepted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society with an overall GPA of .347. She is also a member of National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. She obtained full-time employment as a Specialist in the Fraud Call Center of a financial services company in Elgin in July of 2016.
Allison applied for assistance with training to become a Physical Therapist Assistant after being laid off from her job as an assistant manager of a retail store in May of 2014. In August of 2014, she began a two-year AAS program at Elgin Community College to become a Physical Therapist Assistant. She graduated in May of 2016 with her Physical Therapist Assistant Associate’s degree with High Honors. She passed her licensing exam and was issued her license effective 7/29/16.
With license in hand, Allison began two part-time positions working as a physical therapist assistant—one for a rehabilitation program, and the other at a local hospital—in August of 2016.
When Dawn applied to MCWN for assistance in April of 2014, she had been unemployed for a year and 10 months from her position as a Manager of New Business Services for a college in Downers Grove. Dawn completed WIOA-funded training in Project Management and Internet Marketing with Directions Inc. August 1, 2016, Dawn began a new position as a marketing coordinator for a company in Elgin, IL.
When Ekaterina applied for assistance from McHenry County Workforce Network in funding her Practical Nurse training, her sole source of income was from part-time employment as a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) in a Senior Residential Care facility in Lake Zurich. Based on her employment situation, she qualified for assistance from Workforce Network as a low-income customer. To improve her income and employment opportunities, Ekaterina chose training to become a Licensed Practical Nurse with J Renee Career College. After two years working as a CNA, Ekaterina hoped that additional training and licensing as an LPN would significantly improve her employment situation.
Workforce Network funds for tuition payments and exam fees, and the encouragement provided by Workforce staff, helped Ekaterina to maintain her forward momentum to completion of her training. On June 22, 2016, she passed her NCLEX licensing exam, and earned her LPN license.
Ekaterina stayed with her original employer, and her position was upgraded from CNA to LPN, with a raise in pay and a commitment to full-time hours. Ekaterina is pleased with the outcome from her investment in her future through training, and is grateful to Workforce Network for help in achieving her goals.
Steven entered into the program as a dislocated worker. He pursued his certification through Micro Train for his IT Management program where he became a certified Project Management Professional. He was able to gain successful employment as the VP, SR Process Reengineer with a financial services company in Elk Grove Village, IL
Octavio applied for assistance after being laid off in October, 2015, from his position as a service technician with a pool company. He completed CDL-A truck driving training with Eagle Training and earned his CDL-A license on April 27, 2016. One month later, Octavio obtained employment driving dump trucks for a business in Woodstock, IL.
Suzanne was laid off from her position of 2 ½ years as a software tester for a large Chicago company in November of 2014. Nine months later, August of 2015, she applied for assistance from Workforce Network in IT training. She completed Cisco Networking training through Harper College Continuing Education, 4/21/16. The training consisted of A+, Network +, and Cisco CCNA training. Having completed all of her Harper training, Suzanne has already earned her CompTIA A+ professional certification.
While still in training, Suzanne obtained permanent, full-time employment as a System Developer with a company in Crystal Lake. Now employed for nine months, Suzanne is studying to take her Network + certification exam.
Anna was laid off in September 2015 from her Executive Admin position with a Crystal Lake company after nearly 11 years with the company. Six months later, she applied for assistance with training in web design to improve her chances for employment. She completed two classes in her web design program at MCC with WIOA funding, and has obtained employment as a Marketing Administrator with a manufacturer in Crystal Lake.
Laid off on 11/2/2011 from a position as a food server, Jeff C had a lengthy work history in the food service industry working as a chef, team manager and team leader in various food service venues. Jeff also had worked as an insurance agent for a number of years, utilizing computers in his business. When he applied for the WIA training program with McHenry County Workforce Network, Jeff was looking for a career change to Information Technology, and enrolled in the Network Security/Administration degree program at McHenry County College. Transferring previous college credits to McHenry County College, Jeff satisfied the general education requirements of his degree, allowing him to focus on the required computer classes. In August 2014, Jeff experienced health challenges and had to withdraw from the final class of his degree. When his health improved, he returned to MCC to complete his final class and earn his AAS in Network Security with an outstanding 3.92 GPA.
Jeff completed 86 hours of a Workforce Network funded Work Experience with the Regional Office of Education, and had just started a new assignment with Johnsburg School District 12, when his work experience funding was suspended due to the State Budget stalemate. Referred by Workforce Network staff to the IT Launch Program, Jeff applied and was accepted for additional training and work experience. IT Launch was funded through a special Federal grant to provide employer-driven IT training and certifications and paid work experience. Workforce Network had partnered with TEC Services, local administrator of the IT Launch program, to promote these additional services to local workforce customers. Jeff completed A+ certification training and earned his A+ credential through TEC Services. He also participated in two paid work experience assignments funded by IT Launch.
Jeff’s hard work in training, certification, and work experience finally paid off when he began his full-time permanent position as a Help Desk Technician with a local high school on 2/24/16.
Lisa and her family of six were receiving food stamps when she applied for assistance from McHenry County Workforce Network to complete her training to become a Licensed Practical Nurse. Lisa had been unable to achieve self-sufficiency with her employment as a Nurse Assistant. She decided to train to become a Licensed Practical Nurse to better provide for her family. With financial assistance through Workforce Network, Lisa completed her LPN training with J Renee Career College. Passing her licensing exam, she was awarded her LPN license on 6/9/16. Lisa obtained a 40-hour per week LPN position with an Assisted Living/Long term care nursing facility in Woodstock. Her hourly wage has also increased to commensurate with her new responsibilities.
When John applied to McHenry County Workforce Network for assistance in December of 2015, he was laid off from his position as a Computer Systems Analyst after 30 years of employment for an area Communications Equipment Manufacturer. John sought to use his WIOA-funded training to take his career in a new direction as a technical trainer. John enrolled in training with Computer Training Source (CTS) in the Certified Trainer program. After successfully completing the CTS training program, John went on to pass the CompTIA certification exam and related project work to earn the CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+) certification.
While a participant of the WIOA program, John also completed a work experience with Workforce Network. During that work experience, he taught computer skills classes for Workforce Center customers, and also developed a job matching database (O*Net Match) to match Workforce Network job seekers with job postings submitted by local employers. This job match database is currently being utilized by Workforce Network staff to connect local job seekers with available jobs.
John’s work experience with the County ended early in April, 2016, when he obtained employment as a Computer Systems Engineer with a company in Chicago. In addition to his regular responsibilities as a Computer Systems Engineer, he also uses his newly acquired skills as a technical trainer to facilitate training programs for his new employer.
John made the following comment about his experience with the WIOA program and McHenry County Workforce Network. “The program was excellent from application, to intake, to guidance, and ongoing support. Thank you.”
Young Adult Success Stories
Cecilia enrolled in the Young Adult Internship Program in June 2015, as she was preparing to begin her senior year of high school. She was confident in her career goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner. She signed up for a full course load of honors classes and also participated in extracurricular activities including: Varsity Dance Team, Varsity Track, National Honor Society, French National Honor Society, French Club, Key Club, Best Buddies, and Captains’ Council.
Even though she was very busy with school, Youth Staff assisted Cecilia in completing a Job Shadow with a Nurse Practitioner through Centegra Healthcare. Cecilia had the opportunity to learn more about working in the field, the education and training requirements, and get some of her questions answered.
Cecilia began applying to colleges and completed a few college visits with her family. When we met with Cecilia in April, she was excited to report she was accepted at both Loyola University and the University of Iowa. Cecilia graduated from high school with honors in May 2016. She accepted the offer at the University of Iowa and began classes in August 2016. Cecilia will complete her core classes and then move into a Nurse Practitioner Program.
Cecilia also attended our summer program training including: Google Apps and Career Planning, work readiness training, The “A Game” Work Ethic Training, interviewing practice, etc. Cecilia was a pleasure to have in class, often took a leadership role, shared examples and had great insight into the daily curriculum. We are so proud of Cecilia and all of her success!!
Karla was enrolled in the Young Adult Student Success Program since she was interested in completing Certified Nursing Assistant training. Karla had previously worked as a server, but as a young parent, was wanting a career where she could secure more stable employment. Karla was very determined to have a better life for herself and her son. She completed the CNA training through the Healthcare Track and obtained full time employment. She also completed the Patient Care Tech Capstone class and is now a Certified Patient Care Technician.
Jonathan was referred to the Young Adult Student Success Program by McHenry County College since he had been attending their High School Equivalency classes and wanted to research different careers in manufacturing. Jonathan showed initiative through every step of the program researching careers, asking questions of the employers on the tours, and taking materials home to research topics before each class. Jonathan received excellent feedback about his skills and diligence in getting his work completed. He recently was asked to speak at the GED class at McHenry County College about his experience in the program and is close to finishing all of the sections of the High School Equivalency exam.
Jordan enrolled in the Young Adult Student Success Program in order to build his manufacturing skills and obtain his High School Equivalency Certificate. Jordan had some manufacturing experience, but was looking to increase his skills so he could earn a more substantial wage to eventually be able to support himself. Jordan was extremely diligent in his efforts to prepare for the Equivalency exam and was able to obtain his certificate in one month. Jordan absorbed all of the information presented to him and was able to secure his own employment with a $13/hour wage
Training Success...The Rest of the Story
Victoria O. (60102)
Victoria applied to MCWN for services in 2009 when she was laid off from a senior analyst position with a nation-wide pharmacy chain where she was involved with testing new products and concepts. She applied for training assistance to make a career change to the healthcare field as a Registered Nurse. Victoria completed her Nursing Associate’s degree in two years from Elgin Community College, and obtained employment with a local hospital in 2011. Victoria left the workforce program at that time, having achieved her goal of licensing as a Registered Nurse and obtaining permanent employment. For Victoria, that was just the beginning of her success. Here is the rest of her story:
On Tuesday, December 6, 2016, Victoria wrote her MCWN Career Planner, Christine Nejdl, with an update on her career after 5 years:
I'm not sure if you will remember me, but I originally was in contact with you starting in the fall of 2009. I had been laid off from my position as an analyst and was put in contact with you at the Workforce Center. You helped me find out about going back to school to become a nurse. I finished my associate’s degree in nursing in the spring of 2011 and started working for a local healthcare provider. After completing my associate’s degree I continued on with my education. I finished a bachelor’s of science in nursing through Purdue and went on for my master's degree with UIC. In August this year I finished my master's degree through UIC in Midwifery. I took and passed the Midwifery boards the end of September, and have just started a position with a community health center in Rockford. I just wanted to reach out to you to say thank you for all of your help, I never would have gotten to where I am today without your assistance. It feels so wonderful to not only have a job to pay the bills, but also to have found a career that I truly love. You helped me find a way to make lemonade out of my lemons and I appreciate all of the time and guidance you gave me. I just hope you know that what you do really does make a difference in people's lives.”
Pamela S (60013)
Pam applied for assistance when her employer, a chain grocery store in Lake Zurich, closed its doors as part of a Federal Dislocation Event. She was laid off from her customer service position at the end of December in 2013, and began attending Job Club and other Workforce Center workshops in January of 2014. Pam knew that she was ready to leave retail sales, but was uncertain about what came next. She began doing career research, attending first the Career Workshop, followed by one-on-one staff assisted career planning. She decided to pursue a career in Accounting, starting a Bookkeeping certificate at McHenry County College in March of 2014. Pam completed the Bookkeeping Certificate and began working with the Workforce Network Job Search Team to help build her confidence and develop her job search skills. She also took advantage of the resume critique and practice interview opportunities provided by Center professional volunteers.
Pam obtained a part-time position as an Accounting Support Specialist for a local retailer, and a second part-time position with the local Special Education school district working part-time doing bookkeeping. When her workforce services ended in October of 2015, she had completed her Bookkeeping certificate from MCC, and was gaining experience in bookkeeping with two part-time positions in the field.
On 9/13/2016, Pam emailed her Workforce Network Career Planner, Thom Faber, with an update on her employment situation. She wrote,
"I am so excited—I have a full-time position (for a company in Huntley). I work as an Office Assistant. I will also be doing accounts payable in Rolling Meadows. I am so grateful for you and Workforce Network. I heard Linda retired. Can you please let her know I say Congratulations to her!!!!! I am very grateful for everyone who helped me."
Successful Business Partnerships
Jessup Manufacturing of McHenry has been in McHenry County for 60 years. They have become a global manufacturer producing new and specialized products. Jessup has demonstrated to be a company that is employee centered. In addition to expanding their market and products, growing with technology and adding new machinery, they have invested in training programs that has allowed them to hire and train local job seekers for the needed skills. Jessup was named in 2016 as a Business Champion in McHenry County
Jessup has hired new employees through the On the Job Training program to provide the skills needed to employ Workforce Network job seekers These new hires were able to learn as they earn in these funded trainings. Jessup has also provided incumbent worker training to their own employees that had a need for new skills in order to continue in their positions with the company. On separate occasions Jessup had purchased automated equipment to replace the manual operations. McHenry County Workforce funded the training required by the existing employees to learn how to operate the computerized machinery. Jessup had also offered job shadow opportunities to Workforce Network job seekers that were in the process to deciding a career and training direction.
Collectively Jessup’s commitment to training has helped raise the skill level of our McHenry County workforce.
MAC Automation is a family owned business started 30 years ago. In the past, the company has collaborated with McHenry County Workforce Network in placing and assisting job seekers. Because of this, MAC was named in 2014 as a Business Champion in McHenry County.
In the past, MAC has hired and trained new employees in the Workforce Network On the Job Training program. The company has also provided internship opportunities in the Work Experience program for Workforce Network customers completing their training. They have hired 2 interns into positions that had to be created for the hire. The project manager that is currently overseeing this ERP implementation was one of the interns that was hired. She completed her PMP through WIA training, placed in the internship and the company created an IT Project manager position for her a year ago to continue in full time employment. The other intern that they hired was a 2015 IWP nominee for Individual Achievement. He is an IT and electrical engineer technician and continues to be employed at MAC.
In addition MAC has provided informational interview opportunities for our job seekers looking to make career changes into manufacturing. They have also offered job shadow opportunities to Workforce Network customers.
MAC Automation has shown that they value training in the workforce, and paid forward in our collaborative efforts to train and place job seekers. The company will begin an 8-month Incumbent Worker Training starting in February 2016. The training will provide 47 employees in 19 different occupations the skills needed to operate Enterprise Resource Planning System software for their occupation.