Removing Barriers to Employment

It’s not easy wearing different hats every day yet Nicole Salazar, a CalWORKs employment specialist at El Centro de Amistad, manages her accessories well. Her role in this program is to meet with clients and help them progress toward their employment and educational goals. Nicole accomplishes this by removing mental health barriers in order for them to obtain and maintain employment.

Nicole, who has been with ECDA for three years, meets weekly with her clients who are at various functioning levels. Some activities she helps her clients with to secure employment are:

  • Filling out applications
  • Obtaining financial resources
  • Linking clients to Department of Rehabilitation
  • Going to appointments with them
  • Maintaining contact
  • Helping students with the transition of going back to school
  • Identifying time management skills
  • Enrolling in English classes
  • Helping them get their GED

Once Nicole’s clients secure a job, she focuses on how to maintain their employment. She meets with them to determine what has made them lose their job before and plans on how to work through those triggers. She connects with them in the field, visiting them at their job site, home or wherever they are at since their time is limited. She addresses transition questions, stressors at work and in their personal life, talks about the importance of not burning out, and working on conflict resolution.

Not only does she meet with her clients, she also meets with prospective employers to learn what kind of employee they are looking for and try to find competitive employment to match them with other clients.

Most recently, Nicole has boasted six job hires including one client who was recently hired in a supervisorial advertising and marketing position, earning six figures. For Nicole the rewards are not solely in getting her clients employed.

“Seeing the successes and seeing how much you have changed someone’s life is the most rewarding part of my job,” said Nicole, who recently received a handwritten letter from a client saying how much support they had received from her and how grateful they were. “They came to me with not knowing what they were going to do and now have a career.”

Hats off to our clients and our CalWORKs staff, including Nicole, for meeting the program goals!