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Thousands of Californians have lost their jobs during the pandemic. People without a college degree and people of color, particularly Latinas, have been hit especially hard.
If you’re among those out of work, or looking for a new path, how can you position yourself for a stable job and meaningful career going forward?
Our newsroom recently hosted a virtual panel of experts to answer people’s questions about starting a new career. If you missed it, here are the highlights:
Look at the data. The internet has a wealth of information about wages, hiring outlook and educational requirements in different job categories. Also, search for online videos to get a sense of career pathways that pique your interest.
Explore these questions:
Here are some good career exploration and workforce data sites to get you started:
Talk to people already working in the field. You can ask for informational interviews, talk to people at career centers, use LinkedIn, ask neighbors and look up associations and online groups tied to a career.
Reach out to your local community college. You can speak to someone at a welcome center, admissions office or counseling department to do a career assessment and explore your options for short- and longer-term educational programs or apprenticeships that can further your career.
Here are links to Welcome Centers for the LA City College campuses, as well as a longer list of community colleges around Southern California.
Many community colleges also have career planning courses you can enroll in to help you set goals and priorities, and assess your skills.
Job centers can also help you access training programs, assess career options, connect with community colleges and find job opportunities:
Here are some organizations that also offer career support (many of them run job centers as well):
Often, yes. Bring your transcript to your local community college and find out what is transferable and what work or life experience can count towards credit. This is known as “credit for prior learning.”
Consider the wages you would make at the end of the career, and the investment you’d make in the education, including what it will cost to repay loans, especially if you are taking out private loans.
Look at the career projections. How long will it take for you to get to the salary you want and need to pay back loans?
Find out whether a degree or certificate will actually provide you advancement in your career. Not every degree will. Also, think about the networking value of the educational program you’re considering and, if relevant, the research opportunities there.
Here’s where you can explore wages and career outcomes for graduates of public California colleges:
Most students are entitled to some kind of financial aid. Here’s how to apply and find out what you can get:
Community colleges also have additional aid that you can apply for directly through the college. Talk to a counselor.
Keywords. Look for keywords in the job description and application and try to include them in your resume. Companies sometimes screen applicants by searching for keywords.
Passion. If you are lacking work experience related to that job, you might be able to make up for it by demonstrating passion for the job in your application. Work hard on your cover letter. Even if a job posting says a cover letter is optional. It’s not.
Network. If you know someone who works at a company you want to work for, reach out to them. Keep expanding your network and meeting new people.
Persevere. Apply, apply, apply. Apply for jobs like it’s your job.
If you need to freshen up your skills, or find out which skills you’re missing for the job you want, talk to your local community college about courses and certificate programs that can help you upskill or fill in those gaps.
Job centers and adult education programs can also help you identify short-term courses that can boost your resume.
Never. But you should carefully consider your career and educational goals and the investment it will take to reach them. Again, talk to a career counselor. Also, consider shadowing somebody doing the work you’re interested in to make sure it’s something you’d want to do.
Search by company. One strategy is to identify a company you want to work for, go to their website and search for all jobs in your area (or wherever you’re willing to move).Then you can start to look into the ones that pop up, see what’s interesting and for which ones you qualify.
Gladeo. This “next-generation” career exploration site tends to have more up-to-date job titles than some other sites.
Health Care: You don’t have to become a doctor or a registered nurse (although RNs are in demand). Other jobs in health care, which generally require less of an educational investment, include licensed vocational nursing, respiratory therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, radiology.
There are also health care adjacent jobs that don’t require direct patient care, including medical billing and coding, and medical device sales.
E-sports and e-gaming. From web designers, to game testers, to human resources, to fashion designers, there are a variety of jobs in e-sports and e-gaming that might not come to mind when you think about the industry.
Think about what skills you have that might be transferable to any industry that’s booming.
You can also watch the full event:
Or read the transcript, in English or Spanish.
Dr. Henan L Joof, dean of student services at LA City College
Jessica Ku Kim, vice president of economic and workforce development at LA County Economic Development Corporation
Jenna Gausman, career counselor/faculty at Santa Monica College