By: Ivana Osmanovic and Rachel Gordon, 2017-2018 Work First Fellows
Rachel Gordon and Ivana Osmanovic are both finishing up their Fellowship years at the America Works Brooklyn site, located in Downtown Brooklyn. The two major career service programs that the Brooklyn site operates are CareerAdvance and YouthPathways, bringing approximately 150 clients through their doors daily.
Both Ivana and Rachel work in a variety of roles at their site, but their biggest responsibilities surround the Brooklyn Pre-HSE program. This course is designed to help clients, who are looking to earn their high school equivalency diploma, prepare for and pass the TASC (formerly known as GED) exam. With their dedication to and passion for this class, Ivana and Rachel have been able to develop unique and valuable relationships with clients as they work tirelessly towards this significant life accomplishment. It has been endlessly rewarding to witness these clients rediscover their educational capabilities, pass the TASC exam, and move on to career opportunities that they once thought unlikely for themselves.
Specifically, Rachel teaches the Pre-HSE Science and Social Studies classes, in addition to tutoring sessions for those clients who may need extra help while studying. Outside of the Pre-HSE program, Rachel enables clients to push forward in their careers by teaching Employment Skills classes, hosting mock interview sessions, and revising resumes during one-on-one meetings. Ivana teaches Pre-HSE Math and Writing, and Employment Skills classes. She also facilitates YouthPathways Spoken Word workshops, in which youth clients are encouraged to cultivate original poetry as a means of creative expression. These workshops allow youth clients to discover outlets to express themselves. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Ivana serves as the site's college counselor, aiding clients in their exploration towards higher education. She does so by holding one-on-one sessions with clients and facilitating events, such as college information sessions and higher education fairs.
Along with their training responsibilities, both Ivana and Rachel were able to conduct a research project during their Fellowship. Rachel’s research centered around the relationships between food insecurity, its origins, and workforce participation among low-income populations. Through this research, she was able to collect key findings within these relationships and provide recommendations for policy decisions, workforce development programs, and future research surrounding the critical public health issue.
Ivana's research focused on domestic violence and economic independence in low income populations. She examined different methods to help survivors of domestic violence achieving economic independence from their abusers by interviewing various domestic violence agencies in New York City and applying these methods to workforce agencies.
Both Ivana and Rachel are grateful for their experiences gained during this Fellowship year. Although it is sadly coming to a close, they are excited to carry the lessons they have learned with them in the future and are inspired to use this opportunity to propel their careers.