JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Finding a job can be difficult, especially for transitioning military members, spouses and dependents, but the Employment Readiness Programs at Joint Base San Antonio Military & Family Readiness Centers are a good place to start.
Anyone with a Department of Defense identification card is eligible for services and staff members are more than happy to assist by way of workshops or one-on-one support.
One way to begin a job search is by attending “Your Pathways to Employment,” which is held every Monday at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC. Participants hear from 10 local agencies that explain what services and educational opportunities are offered.
Ashley Powers, Employment Readiness Program coordinator and a military spouse, said this event saves time because job seekers do not have to travel around town trying to locate assistance.
“You can work with multiple agencies at once on resumes, interview skills and more,” she said.
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Josue Valencia, who is retiring next year with 23 years of active duty and National Guard service, liked the event because it felt more personalized.
“They do this class every Monday, so the group is not as big,” he said. “I have been to meetings and classes where there were more than 100 people. Instead of me waiting in line to talk to someone, they are here just for me.”
Antony Clark, community outreach manager for LeaderQuest, regularly attends the program and looks forward to helping people locate services.
“This is a great opportunity for veterans and their spouses to have a direct link to the individuals who are looking to have them come in for training or for employment opportunities,” he said.
Clark also stressed the importance of getting out and meeting potential employers.
“Networking is huge when it comes to employment. You can always put your resume on websites and try to find employment that way, but nothing beats being able to talk directly to the person that is trying to hire you or looking for you,” Clark said. “This event on Mondays is a great opportunity to do that.”
Other opportunities for job seekers are the federal resume class held the first Wednesday of every month and the interviewing techniques class held every third Wednesday each month.
These classes include a plethora of information the program specialists have gathered and topics they have researched.
“We have talked to hiring specialists and civilian personnel specialists on the Air Force and Army side, and asked what they are looking for, how to get to the next step,” Powers said. “We also focus on what the recruiters in San Antonio are looking for.”
The experts in the resume writing class will not write the resume, but will help refine and tailor it to the jobs the participant is looking for, which is something an applicant should determine before beginning to write a resume.
“You really need to hone in on what you want to do,” Powers said. “We know you can do anything, but what do you WANT to do. Once you figure out that path, then you know who you are when talking to people. You can say, this is what I want to do and for these reasons.”
Helping people find rewarding careers is a passion for Powers, so when she is contacted by people from around the world starting their job search in San Antonio, she is glad to help.
“We get excited when someone gets a job,” she said. “I want to help people, and as long as I am helping people, I am happy. I am going to feel fulfilled as long as I know that I am having an impact.”
And the impact Powers and her staff members are having is remarkable.
“Last year, the Education Assistance Program supported 674 military community customers through workshops and 622 through one-on-one appointments at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston's Military & Family Readiness Center,” she said, adding that the partnerships they have within the community are key to participant’s success. “We have many partnerships with agencies and businesses in the area, and the chance is, we will know a partner who can provide what you needed.”
Elizabeth Bayouth, a military spouse who moved to San Antonio with her husband in January, is excited to utilize the Employment Readiness Program’s services.
“I had no idea so much help was available,” she said during the employment workshop Feb. 10. “I am a little bit overwhelmed because I have become very frustrated trying to find a job. I was going to pay someone to help me with my resume because it is a mess.” Now, she doesn’t have to.
As Valencia continues to prepare for his retirement, he also plans to attend the resume writing class.
“My biggest thing now is sitting down and get that resume constructed, try to pull everything in,” he said. “Now, I know there is all kinds of support to help me build that resume. I feel a lot more confident knowing resources are available.”
Having a top-notch resume is important, but the number one piece of advice Powers gives to folks coming to San Antonio looking for employment is networking.
“We are ‘Military City USA.’ In some locations you are able to leverage your military preference, but here, it’s hard because everyone has preference,” she said. “You have to find the best way to tell people who you are, what is your brand and who do you want people to see you as, so you can get those jobs.”
For more information or to register for classes or workshops, contact the JBSA Employment Readiness Programs at JBSA-Randolph, 210-652-5321; JBSA-Lackland, 210-671-3722; or JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, 210-221-2705.
(Editor’s note: The mention of non-federal organizations is simply informational and not intended to imply endorsement by the U.S. Government, the DOD, or the U.S. Air Force.)