The Intergenerational Literacy Program (ILP) in Chelsea, Massachusetts, offers classes in English and Spanish to build youth and adult learners’ language and literacy skills. To prepare learners for next steps with a focus on identifying the transferable skills they have gained working both here in the U.S. and in their countries of origin, instructors selected MyMnCareers and Goodwill Community Foundation (GCF) Learn Free to use in bimonthly, remote career advising workshops and for self-directed learning at home. Career and Education Advisor Elizabeth Ortiz developed a workshop syllabus incorporating lessons from both resources. The English Language Learner version of MyMnCareers features easy-to-read content for identifying goals, exploring work values and skills, and developing job search skills. The Work and Career lessons on GCFLearnFree complement the MyMnCareers lessons and make for easy-to-navigate lessons at home, where users can select a language option (English, Spanish or Portuguese) to assist in understanding the materials.
The MyMnCareers Develop Your Work Skills inventory helps learners identify employability skills they already have, such as communication and respecting differences, as well as other skills, such as caring for children or elderly persons. Elizabeth expanded on the inventory with an activity where learners in small groups learned the language to describe themselves in an interview with phrases such as, “I am a team player.” MyMnCareers study modules Is a Job the Same as a Career and the Career vs. Job Timeline use research-based graphs and anecdotes to demonstrate how staying in a particular field can help one build additional skills, move up the career ladder, and increase salary to achieve long-term goals. Learners were happy to discover that many skills they use in their current jobs, such as collaborating with others and engaging in teamwork, are transferable and can be readily applied throughout their career.
Elizabeth drew upon lessons and quizzes about interviewing from MyMnCareers and lessons in Spanish from GCFLearnFree when she worked with Spanish-only classes.
She designed lessons with a focus on the workplace skills learners have acquired and developed from their job experiences. Learners discussed questions such as “what kind of skills did you learn in that job?” and “how can you transfer or use newly learned skills to another job?”
They completed resumes using the GCFLearnFree lesson How to Create a Resume, adding in their transferable skills to make themselves more marketable. The tips on how to prepare for an interview from both resources were very helpful. Learners shared that they did not know previously that researching a company before the interview and asking knowledgeable questions could increase their chance of having a successful interview and potentially being hired. One student remarked, “This was my first time having a workshop about interviewing and it will be very helpful to know for the interview.”
Elizabeth explained that many learners with high school or advanced degrees in their home countries initially thought moving to the U.S. meant having to leave a career behind to work at any job to make money. But after participating in workshops using MyMnCareers and GCFLearnFree, learners felt more hopeful about reviving a former career or about pursuing a new professional career path.
Learners can attend individual advising sessions after completing workshops to help them make specific plans to pursue their educational and career goals. The ILP advising staff share opportunities for next steps, which they have cultivated with local training programs, a community college transitions program, and the state-funded career center.