One program awarded a 2008 Women’s Fund grant is a Career Development Program for Underemployed Women run by CareerLinks, Albany Community Action Partnership and other partners. Below is the story of one formerly underemployed woman, Donna Rains, who is succeeding due to CareerLinks.

Donna Rains (left in photo; on right is CareerLinks Director Marsha Lazarus) has been a client of CareerLinks since April 2007. When she started attending CareerLinks programs, she was already a student at Bryant and Stratton working on a degree in medical assisting. Although her studies were demanding, Donna also wanted and needed a job. “My son is the reason I do what I do. It’s all about being determined not to go the route of welfare,” she said.

CareerLinks coached Donna on job skills, including business social skills, like how to interact with co-workers and clients, and how to be interviewed. Donna said, “During the interview training, whenever I started to get off track with my answer, my counselor said, ‘That’s enough, Donna. Stay focused.’“ After Donna had her interview at Albany Medical Center (AMC), her counselor advised her to stay in touch with them and show an interest in the job. Donna explained, “That little crack in the door can make a difference.” It did — Donna has been working at AMC as a patient support associate since August 2007.

Her counselor also looks after Donna at school by keeping in touch, keeping track of her grades, and checking if Donna needs a tutor. Donna is proud to be nearly finished with her certificate program, and looking forward to graduating in May 2009, when she will be qualified to work as a medical assistant. She hopes to work in a surgeon’s office, where her responsibilites might include taking vital signs, recording patient medical history and doing lab work.

In addition, Donna is considering continuing on in school, perhaps in social work “since I can let people know there is a way out,” or in pediatric nursing. CareerLinks has helped Donna beyond job and school support. When money was tight, CareerLinks gave Donna a bus pass she needed to go to work.

At Christmas, CareerLinks selected Donna for the Adopt- A-Family program. Donna said, “These meant a lot — they showed that my counselor thinks of me as an individual. She could have given these things to someone else, but she chose me.” Knowing CareerLinks staff is there to talk helps reduce Donna’s stress of being a single mom, working full-time and going to school.

Donna said, “It’s always going to be hard. But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to look for it. If you want something and the first way doesn’t work, go on to the second way. Maybe the ninth way will be the one that works. I am determined.”