CTEP Great Story Highlight: Member Jill Nerka
The Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) AmeriCorps program bridges the digital divide for new immigrants and low-income communities in the Twin Cities. AmeriCorps members help youth and adults use technology to better access social, civic, educational and economic opportunities. Each month, we will highlight one of our 'great stories' from our CTEP members. Great stories help to capture the impact a member has on an individual in the community beyond numbers.
Great Story written by 2011-2012 CTEP member Jill Nerka serving at Saint Paul Public Library-Central
"In my open lab at the Saint Paul Central Library I primarily assist people with their job search. I commonly help library patrons with creating a resume, attaching a resume to an application, creating an email account, writing a cover letter, finding useful job search websites, and working on interview tips. Many times I assist a patron and once they feel comfortable enough doing it on their own they start coming less frequent, leaving me not knowing if they ever got a job or not. Luckily, there are a few patrons who I am able to follow up with in order to hear about their successful re-entry into the job market.
In May I started helping a man named John. He was an older man who had been laid off from his nursing assistant job. He had worked at the same place for numerous years, and was laid off because of budget cuts. He found himself in open lab at Central library looking for assistance in applying for jobs online. The last time John filled out an application, they were not being done online. Therefore, he needed a lot of help with navigating a job search site and uploading documents to the application. John also needed some guidance in creating a resume. He was surprised at how much the formatting and look of resumes had changed over the years. He came into the lab almost everyday diligently working on filling out applications and perfecting his resume.
After many weeks of submitting applications, John started to get emails/calls about interview opportunities. John ended up getting an offer and accepted a job as a nursing assistant at a nursing home. He came back one last time to open lab so he could check his email account and let me know that he had gotten the job! He was extremely grateful for what the open lab had to offer. He was a very qualified applicant with a lot of experience, he just needed a little help with the technology aspect that had changed so much since the last time he had gone through the job search process."
Jill Nerka graduated from Luther College in Decorah, IA in 2010 with a degree in Political Science. She currently serves at the Saint Paul Central Library. At Central, Jill is helping to bridge the digital divide by teaching computer classes and running open labs for adults. Most of the library patrons use the classes and open lab to become more prepared and ready to rejoin the workforce or to finish their schooling. Others use the technology room to learn basic computer skills, like learning to type, becoming familiar with Microsoft programs, creating an email account, and learning how to gain access to community resources through the internet. This is Jill’s second year serving at Central Library as a CTEP AmeriCorps member. She decided to do a second year because she immensely enjoyed her first year experience in working with adults by helping them learn and better understand technology. Jill is very passionate in helping people gain access to technology, which in today’s world is vital in order to be successful in gaining access to educational, career, and social opportunities.