What is it like for a Work Options for Women student on her first day of training? What about after her second week? In “View from a Student” we’ll take a look at WOW training from the perspective of the women and men enrolled in the program.
“When are we going to do Week 5?”
“Week 5. When are you going to interview me about my fifth week?”
Charlotte* is plating lunch for the staff at Work Options for Women when she tosses the question out, an excited lilt to her voice. The underlying message: When can I tell you how amazing I feel? When can I tell you how awesome I’ve become and how great my culinary skills are?
Hard to imagine how Charlotte was just a little more than a month ago.
She’s a pro in the kitchen, and she’s gradually understanding how important a good attitude in the workplace is.
“The work stuff is self-explanatory. Be on time, on time, on time,” Charlotte said. “What’s hard is what you tell your mind. You have to follow instruction from folks, and you can’t take it personally. You have to do things the way they want you to.”
Outside the kitchen, a major challenge for Charlotte has been group therapy sessions with the rest of her classmates. Working with a professional therapist, WOW students are able to delve deeper into the barriers they face to employment.
Maybe they have anger issues. Maybe they have to learn what an unhealthy relationship looks like. Maybe they need to understand how to leave personal problems at the kitchen door, and that constructive criticism is not a personal attack.
“After working all day, it took me a while to realize the class helps. It shows you the way you think,” Charlotte said. “With the cooking stuff, I can learn recipes. The work part, I can handle. The mental part, I have to get better at, taking constructive criticism — they just want us to be able to do it right.
“I’m learning professionalism, teamwork, how to conduct yourself at work.”
Charlotte said she plans to finish the program, and in the meantime she is looking for a job in food service. Her priority is her children — taking care of them, making sure they are fed and clothed and have a home to go to. A job will help pay the bills, and the WOW program will help advance her in whatever job she obtains.
“I have to find a job so I can take care of my babies,” she said.
Want to apply to become a WOW student? For more information about the program or for information about eligibility, call 720-944-3393 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
*This name has been changed.