Mia Jones is a server at Ryan's in Columbus. Jones was placed at the job through the Golden Triangle WIN Job Center. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
February 13, 2017 10:00:05 AM
Mia Jones found the Golden Triangle WIN Job Center to be more helpful than she expected.
Jones, 22, turned to the job center in August for help in ultimately landing a job as a server at Ryan's Restaurant in Columbus. She said the process went much faster than she thought it would.
"Mr. (Calvin Dailey) looked up one of the jobs I said I was interested in and I had an interview the next day," Jones said. "That was my first time using a WIN center. I thought it would take weeks -- I didn't expect it to only take a few days."
Dailey, an interviewer with the WIN center, said the state-funded job placement center regularly draws 200 to 400 people, mostly job-seekers, per week from Clay, Lowndes, Oktibbeha, Noxubee and neighboring counties, depending on the season. He said how long it takes to find a job varies.
"If you just come in here saying, 'I need a job today,' nine times out of 10, we're able to get you a job today because you just want employment," he said. "But if you come in and you've got a resume and you want something specific, we're going to work with you until we help you get that job."
Jones, a recent Mississippi State University graduate, said she's planning to soon start begin working on earning a master's degree. In the meantime, her job at Ryan's keeps the bills paid.
The WIN Center, formerly located in a building on North Frontage Road west of Columbus, is now housed in East Mississippi Community College's Center for Manufacturing Technology Excellence in Mayhew. The center started the move last week, and Dailey said employees have just recently finished setting everything up in the new location.
WIN centers fall under the Mississippi Department of Employment Security's purview. EMCC refers clients to services such as GED preparation, Work Keys testing, and other programs.
Dailey said moving the local office to EMCC helped the job center better work with its longtime partner, consolidating all its services into one location.
"Moving here turns us into a one-stop shop," Dailey said. "Moving here was a great benefit to our people, really."
Dailey said the WIN center works with a broad range of employers to track job openings. Once a client comes seeking a job, WIN creates a profile -- that can be used at any WIN center in the state -- and helps track potential matching openings.
The WIN center also offers a variety of training programs, such as the Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA) program. Dailey said program participants come in for a pair of appointments where they build a plan for finding employment, and they receive learning material about building a resume, how to dress for work and other skills to help in finding work.
The center also has a Trade Adjustment Assistance program worker, Morris Harris, who works with people who have lost jobs due to overseas competition.
Bianca Mays, the center's Disabled Veterans Outreach Program specialist, works with disabled veterans who face barriers to entering the workforce. Mays works through the Jobs for Veterans State Grant and helps with resume preparation and assessment, facilitates job placement and acts as a gateway for veterans and available community resources.
Mays said most of the veterans she works with are not from Columbus Air Force Base.
"Most of them are from the Golden Triangle and are basically returning home from duty," she said.
There is no cost to use the WIN center's services.
No background checks or drug testing
Dailey noted that while the center can refer potential employees, employers are still responsible for tasks such as background checks and drug testing.
This came into play recently, when a convicted felon used the WIN center for placement as a driver for a Columbus food services company. The now former employee went missing with a company van earlier this month and has since been arrested and charged with embezzlement. State police recovered the van near Waynesboro.
A regional manager for the company told The Dispatch in a previous interview that he was unaware WIN had not conducted a background check and the business would not have knowingly hired a felon as a driver.
Working with the WIN center
The city of Starkville has started working with the WIN center late last year and is already seeing the benefits.
The city recently submitted 10 job orders to the WIN center, and City Human Resources Director Navarrete Ashford said that seems to be working out well -- with interviews for eight of those openings scheduled this week.
Stephanie Halbert, who works in Ashford's department with the city, said the WIN center seems to be helping with recruitment for positions that conventional advertising had failed to fill.
"It's picked up some," Halbert said. "Some of the talent we've picked up through the WIN job center we didn't get just through our normal advertisements."
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