Jay Manning of Buffalo was looking to re-enter the work force after getting his MBA at age 60. Lynn Canty came to get advice on pursuing a new career in drug and alcohol counseling. Eric Jones was weighing whether he needs to pursue a master’s degree after being unable to find a job for nearly a year.
Dozens of Western New Yorkers came Friday to Erie County Community College’s City Campus to meet with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s “mobile re-employment response team” to get help finding a job.
The team has been conducting one- and two-day events across the state.
The events are not job fairs. No potential employers are involved. Instead, job counselors from state and local agencies offer one-on-one sessions as well as group workshops to help job seekers polish their resumes and interview skills. Team members also provide job leads and training opportunities.
The event was geared toward people who have been unemployed more than six months – invitations were sent out to such people. But it was open to the public as well.
Statewide, the unemployment rate was 9.1 percent as of August, according to the latest statistics available from the state Department of Labor. In the Buffalo Niagara region, the rate was 8.8 percent, up more than a full percentage point from August 2011.
“I liked what they had to offer,” said Canty, who after 15 years in customer service-related jobs recently completed a certificate program for drug and alcohol counseling.
The Buffalo resident received advice on pursuing volunteer work related to drug and alcohol treatment – experience that would give her skills in the field as well as provide networking experience.
She also realized that she shouldn’t be afraid of going back to call center work if she can’t find a new job immediately.
“I can always fall back on what I know,” she said.
Catherine Scelsi of Williamsville came looking for leads in finding work in mammography or radiology.
“I want to find a job,” she said. “I have far too much energy to retire.”
Scelsi, a youthful 69-year-old, has been looking for work for five months.
“I feel bad,” she said. “October is breast cancer awareness month, and I’m not working.”
Manning, 63, a former facilities manager at a church, got his MBA three years ago and has spent about half of that time fixing up an old house on Best Street with his wife and daughter that they bought from the city’s homesteading program for $1.
“I spent some time with my wife doing something I’ve wanted to do for decades,” he said.
But now, he said, he’s ready to go back to work and put his experience and MBA to work.
Over the last three years, he says, he’s applied for about 100 jobs, but he’s only had three interviews.
“It’s tough,” he said, “probably because of my age. Certainly not because of my education or background.”
At 30, Jones of Niagara Falls has spent the last year looking for a new job after being “downsized.” He has a degree in communications from Canisius College but said he has found that that’s not enough.
“Nowadays, you’ve got to go back to school,” he said. “Just a bachelor’s [degree] is just like having a diploma – a high school diploma.”
Jones is getting ready to apply to schools to get an MBA so he can pursue a career, possibly in marketing or public relations. In the meantime, he was hoping to find some sort of a job, perhaps with a tuition reimbursement option.