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SIUE career services program tailored to community needs

George Beck of East St. Louis finally snagged a job after filling out 22 applications.

Rita McKnuckles and Eloise Taylor, both of East St. Louis, eagerly await their weekly Google Digital Skills class.

These are just a few examples that prove how valuable the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Learning Resource Center is, according to Tomoko Jo, program assistant for career services.

“My role as the career service provider is to flatten each patron’s career pathway as much as I can,” said Jo. “Each client is unique and is in a unique situation, especially in this community. LRC career services provide hands-on, client-centered career services to meet individuals’ needs.”

LRC’s career services entail:

Client-based services: “I provide a full range of career development services including career counseling, resume building, job searching, applying for jobs and assessments,” said Jo.

Community engagement: “I distribute weekly career opportunity emails to community members and local entities,” she noted. “Weekly emails contain job listings, hiring event information and community resources.”

Tomoko-ClassWorkshops and training: “I provide workshops and training based on the community’s needs. For example, I offer weekly basic digital skill classes.”

“I’m enjoying myself,” said Taylor, after her third Google Digital Skills class. “Ms. Tomoko is teaching me how to use the computer, how to access gmail and how to send email messages to other people.” Jo is a certified Google educator.

“She is very patient with us,” added McKnuckles. “She explains things in detail. The computer is becoming a lot less scary. We want to continue to learn. Everything is on the computer these days.”

Tomoko-HireJo, a native of Japan and also a Japanese language teacher, came to the U.S. in 2003. “I chose the adult education field, because educational equity has been a lifelong passion since I served in the peace corps,” she explained. “LRC is a unique and powerful place where community members can use library services and computers, attend programs, check on weekly updated job listings and receive in-person career services.”

“If clients need assistance with online applications, I walk them through the process,” continued Jo. “If clients need an email address, I assist them in creating one and show them how to access it. If clients need resumes, I help create one with them.”

All services at the LRC are free and the facility is easily accessible by public transportation.

“I want the public to come and explore the LRC,” shared Jo. “Library Operation Associates LaAris Crumer and Jayme Abbott keep the doors open and welcome patrons. Program Assistant Danayka Saavedra Berrocal has been developing/offering interesting programs and has increased Facebook access tremendously. We have so much to offer!”

The SIUE East St. Louis Learning Resource Center is organized as a full-service public library focusing on youth and adult community outreach, programs and collections. The library also contributes to the success of higher education opportunities and career development provided by the East St. Louis Higher Education Campus (ESLHEC). The LRC supports the diverse range of students and public patrons on the ESLHEC, and encourages them to succeed and learn new skills provided by the LRC community collection and programs.

Left to right: Tomoko Jo is Career Services Program Assistant at the LRC. Jo helps East St Louisans Eloise Taylor and Rita McKnuckles.

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