Although “pivot” was the word of 2020, transformation continues to define the landscape at Ignite in 2021. As the Economic Advancement and Sufficiency team at Jewish Community Services re-envisions its structure and strategy, Sherri Sacks, a veteran Ignite Career Center Coach has been promoted to Manager of Career Services. To learn more about what this change means for Ignite, we interviewed Sherri about her journey and vision for the future.
How do you feel your experience working as a Career Coach has prepared you to manage the Ignite Career Center?
The Ignite Career Center has come a long way since I started 7+ years ago. A lot of that is because of my predecessor’s philosophy to hear and understand people – who they are, what they’re interested in, and what their strengths are. I share that philosophy and believe in helping my colleagues feel good about what they do. I think that my own time as a career coach has been the foundation to making me a good manager. I’ve worked with a wide variety of clients and situations and these past years have enabled me to innovate programs and be creative. With all these experiences under my belt, I feel I can go on to the next step and help other people grow, expand, and flourish in their jobs. Because I was a career coach, I see what we need and what would benefit the Career Center.
What changes have you seen occur in the Career Center during the pandemic?
Client attendance rates are better now! A lot of our population is happy and prefer the virtual workshops and meetings. Our staff is also excited to have more flexible schedules that can accommodate client’s unique needs. People are very productive because they’re able to shift things more than they were before. I’ve also noticed now more than ever, networking and knowing someone is very important. The job market is so competitive; fortunately, we have many employers to network with. Plus, although we continue to serve clients that are local, we also expanded our services globally. This year we had a client from Paris, France!
What are you most proud of when it comes to the Career Center’s accomplishments?
I’m really proud of the staff. It’s a cohesive team that respects each other and helps each other out, all the time. I’m proud that we are resilient and always able to pivot when the economy changes or certain things happen in the job market. Recently, we’ve adjusted our technology, redesigned our website, re-branded ourselves, and are marketing more. We have also been able to update our materials and become certified resume writers. I’m proud that we are investing in our staff more so that we can better serve our clients, who are our priority.
How is the Career Center helping clients navigate the emerging world of remote work?
We are helping people step outside of their comfort zone and easing them into and practicing becoming more comfortable with the new world that we live in. We offer different ways to get information we didn’t offer before. Before, everything was paper! Now, Lisa Cohn, our remote work specialist, who has ten years of experience working as an employer account representative, has transitioned into getting up to date in the remote world. She has been going to trainings and networking through her human resources background to make connections that can help our clients and educate them about where to look for and how to get remote jobs. Her new focus is also helping to keep our career coaches informed on the advantages and challenges of remote work, so they can guide clients better.
What are you most excited about implementing in the Career Center?
There are a few things in the works. I’m excited to see how much our remote work expertise benefits our clients. I’m looking forward to updating our website’s client portal with exclusive career-related content. And I’m eager to have more trainings and certifications for the career coaching staff. Overall, what I’m trying to do is make sure my staff can follow their passions and ideas in enhancing the quality and reach of the Career Center.
What can people expect to see from the Career Center moving forward?
People can expect to see new, more diverse programs coming from the Career Center. We are working on creating programs related to specific populations, such as millennials and those re-entering the workforce after parental leave, as well as events regarding hybrid work models and the psychology of work. I think people can expect to see more of us on social media platforms as we try to increase engagement.
Why should job seekers and employers come to the Career Center?
I consider career services like a GPS system. We help people navigate their career plan and help them get from point A to point B. Depending on where someone is in that process, we’re able to customize a program for them and offer all kinds of job readiness skills through one-on-one coaching, as well as job placement assistance. Plus, anybody can come in for a quick resume or LinkedIn profile update.
For people who are currently collecting unemployment, I highly recommend they don’t wait before it stops to look for a job. Everyone should be proactive rather than reactive. It’s no different than if you have an ache and pain and go to a doctor. If what you’re doing in your job hunt is not working, call the Career Center and get a consultation to see how we can assist you. You can bypass hardships and save yourself time and money, while getting to your goals more quickly, by working with a career coach.
We welcome and serve all. We also have ongoing grant program opportunities, so we encourage everyone to reach out and spread the word.