Newly single mother finds fresh start through JobLinks

Mika-Duncan-JobLInks-editAt first glance, Mika Duncan was an unlikely candidate for OPDC’s JobLinks program. She’d held clerical and administrative positions within nonprofit organizations like A Second Chance. She worked successfully for many years more than the average JobLinks client. A former victim of domestic violence, she focused her career path in areas in which she could help others.

After a painful divorce and custody battle, Mika struggled to make ends meet. The court ordered her to join the EARN program to help her get back on her feet. Initially, Mika was reluctant to join a program for which she felt over-qualified. One month later, she says JobLinks ultimately helped her turn her life around and provide for her child after ending her abusive marriage.

“My attitude was so negative my first week at JobLinks. I was bitter; nothing was going the way I needed it to go. The other girls in the room didn’t want to be there, either. It was a negative party!” Mika chuckled. “Then, the second week, when I met Chris, that’s where it all started to turn around.”

Christopher Kendall and our JobLinks team worked to prioritize Mika’s situation. Her court fees had piled up and her daughter’s recent growth spurt left her needing new clothes for the summer.

“We wanted to strengthen her interviewing skills and build on her clerical and administrative experience,” Chris began. “We generally tried to pick up her spirits and helped her believe in herself. She came into the program with this drive…all she needed to do was hit the ground and she would get running.”

Mika knew exactly what kind of position she wanted, and JobLinks helped push her towards that goal. After two weeks in the EARN program, she received a call to interview with The Bair Foundation, a center for foster care placement and adoption. In three days, she completed two interviews and received a 100% on the online clerical test that JobLinks administers. The next day, she received a job offer.

JL entrance-after“I accepted the job and started May 20th. By May 23rd, they had changed my position,” Mika said. “I went from a secretary to a manager in two and a half days, because I dived in and did what was necessary.”

After securing this new job, Mika stressed about leaving work on time to pick her child up from summer camp. JobLinks advocated to her employer for a flexible schedule to accommodate her special needs. Concurrently, we worked to secure financial assistance to help Mika obtain a vehicle and become independent.

“For the last couple years, we’ve been working with the Department of Public Welfare to secure funding for vehicles. You have to jump through some hoops to do that,” Chris began. “I think they were able to see the same kind of zeal in Mika that we see. That’s why we were able to push it through.”

Mika has now been at The Bair Foundation for approximately a month, but already loves it. She is able to pick up her daughter from camp with ease using their new vehicle.

“I tell everybody in a situation like me to go to JobLinks,” Mika said as a final note. “They live up to what they say they’re going to do.”

JobLinks offers training and placement services to job seekers and employers city-wide. We are located in the Oakland Career Center at 294 Semple Street in Central Oakland. Contact us at 412.621.3821 or questions@joblinks.opdc.org.