Cambridge Works Celebrates Graduates
Cambridge Works, the City’s transitional jobs program, celebrated its 26th graduating class in December. Cambridge Works serves Cambridge residents, ages 18 – 35, who have not been able to get or keep jobs for a variety of reasons. The program, operated through the Department of Human Service Programs’ Office of Workforce Development (OWD), prepares participants to enter the workforce through a 3-month, paid temporary job placement, one-on-one case management, and job readiness classes.
Due to Covid-19 limitations and impacts, OWD staff adjusted elements of this program cycle, including recruitment, worksite development, and enrollment eligibility. However, the personal experiences of Cambridge Works graduates remained as powerful as any other year.
“This program changed my life,” said Fidel. “Before the program, I didn’t leave the house much. [Cambridge Works] helped me get back in school and go for my GED. It helped me achieve my goals, including feeling financially stable.” Fidel emphasized the benefit of the program’s holistic approach. In addition to learning practical skills like how to create a LinkedIn profile, prepare a strong resume, and dress for an interview, he valued having a case worker to discuss his personal life with. In a job readiness workshop, he learned mindfulness practices that he brought to his job as an Assistant Custodian at the YWCA, where he appreciated working in a role that allowed him to give back to his community.
Ashley explained how she initially struggled to balance program commitments with her family responsibilities, especially as a mother with children and an infant at home. Support from her case manager helped her persevere through the challenges: “having someone check in on you is always a good feeling,” she reflected. Ashley’s job placement was at MIT Medical, where she worked as a Covid-19 screener. In addition to the experience from her job site, she noted that the program’s mock interviews helped build her confidence for the future. “Cambridge Works showed me that I can still get a good job with a troubled past, and my future is still bright,” she said.
For Neverson, Cambridge Works provided critical professional experience and networking connections after his post-graduate plans were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. “I graduated college in May 2020, during lockdown, and applied everywhere, but could not get a job,” he explained. Neverson’s job placement was at Kleinfelder, an engineering firm in Boston, where he worked as an Engineering Project Assistant. “Initially I doubted myself because I was familiar with marketing, not engineering,” said Neverson. But the placement broadened his experience. “I participated in weekly team meetings, attended community outreach events, assisted the team’s project manager, and performed marketing-related tasks, including social media.”
As a security assistant at USI Security, Steve worked at CambridgeSide, handing out masks to shoppers, patrolling the mall, answering visitors’ questions, and providing security during the Cambridge Half Marathon. He valued the professional experience he gained and described how the support he received from staff led to an internal transformation for him. “I’m doing much better with how I feel about myself,” he reflected. “I am finally able to help my family out and feel better about who I am and what I can offer.” During the program, Steve applied for a full-time position at USI Security and received help from staff in preparing his application and practicing his interview skills. Steve was offered the job and will begin his new position in January.
Cambridge Works has supported Cambridge residents like Fidel, Ashley, Neverson, and Steve for over a decade in overcoming personal and professional barriers to employment. Cambridge Works is currently accepting applications for the next cycle of the program, which begins in March. Click here to apply to Cambridge Works.
For more information, visit www.cambridgema.gov/CambridgeWorks.