VACAVILLE — Concord resident Jennifer Minck had been out of work for two years when she found Danville’s Job Connections.
She’d run through her unemployment benefits but said she was lucky in one respect – she was in the loop of people who got an extension so she had 99 weeks of unemployment.
Minck was spending hours on the Internet and getting “very little value” in an isolated activity, she said. When she got to Job Connections – at one time the largest job support group in Northern California with 3,500 members and featured on the show “60 Minutes” – she was able to share with others, what worked, what didn’t work during a job search.
“It was not only a place you could vent and feel safe but you could also interact with other people,” she said.
The company recruiter and executive career coach who started the program, Dean Tracy, left Job Connections in 2012 and about a year ago moved to Vacaville. He’s bringing the identical job support concept to the area in the form of CareerLink Ministries, an outreach program of The Father’s House. The first weekly meeting will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and is designed for anyone looking for a job either because they’re out of work or looking for a career change.
In addition to being able to network and vent, meetings include speakers, such as Richard Bolles, who penned the iconic “What Color is your Parachute?,” plus topics such as how to write a resume, how to interview and “set yourself apart,” and staying motivated during a job search.
“That’s the whole idea of this ministry – be a place people can come to vent, to talk but also be a resource and help them as they go through their job search,” Tracy said.
Tracy is not envisioning the program as being Vacaville-centric – he said that Job Connections attracted people – both job seekers and employers – from all four corners of the Bay Area, from Menlo Park to Gilroy to Napa.
“My vision for this is it’s more than just Vacaville,” he said.
San Ramon resident Randy Marek said Tracy stresses the importance of networking and keeping up that network to foster contacts that could lead to possible job opportunities.
“If they’re in transition, between a job or starting a new career, it’s a great place to network,” said Danville resident Norbert Walz. “The key is regular attendance.”
When Tracy started Job Connections in 2002, he had three people attend the first meeting. Every week, he said, “it got bigger and bigger” and eventually attracted up to 200 people per meeting. He said he wasn’t initially discouraged, citing the tremendous need for the program.
“People just needed to hear about it,” he said. “It took awhile to build momentum but once it got going, it really got going.”
He said he’s not sure what to expect when the program launches next week in terms of who or how many will show up. The largely unadvertised program is mostly word of mouth and doesn’t target any type of person or career.
“Whether you’re looking for a $50,000 job or a $500,000 job, there are still things you need to do to get the job,” he said.
The program will take place at 126 Peabody Road. The email address is CareerLink@tfh.org.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.