The Impact of Employer Partnerships at Goodwill

2019 was a milestone year for Marya Moon. After losing her banking job of 15 years, she found herself taking odd jobs to maintain an income, wondering what would come next. By August, she was enrolled in the Quality Assurance (QA) course at Goodwill. By November, the script had flipped. She was back to work with a new career in a whole new area of a bank – its IT department – as a Systems Implementation Analyst for Wells Fargo.

What stood out to Marya, and to many who participate in Goodwill University programs – was that Goodwill helps people not just learn to do the job, but to get the job. “I knew it was out there for me, I just needed support from the people at Goodwill to help me get started,” Marya said.

The people making it possible for Marya to launch a successful new career in one of the biggest hiring industries in our region are not just the Goodwill career navigators – but the IT industry itself. In 2018, the Cognizant U.S. Foundation gave its inaugural gift of $1.5 million to Goodwill. Shortly thereafter, partnered with Goodwill Industries International to launch the Digital Career Accelerator program, naming Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont one of 11 Digital Change Agents nationwide.

The additional funding and recognition enabled Goodwill to deliver more than a dozen advanced IT training programs in the past two years. These programs come to life thanks to the deep support of employers, from Cognizant, whose team members frequent the Goodwill Opportunity Campus to conduct mock interviews, to Microsoft, who provides the classroom technology, and instructors like Mary Talluri of Carolina Softech, who taught Marya the skills she needed to access her new role.

“I really want to help them out and train them in a way where they can start and succeed in a new career,” Mary said. She is mentoring, teaching and providing internships to participants. She’s also one of a handful of employers who sit in on student showcases – where participants present their findings from live projects outsourced to them by local companies.

“I am so impressed how they pick up on the subject matter so quickly and by their dedication and passion to do something different. They don’t give up. We’re talking about someone coming in without a technology background, with no experience, but they are able to present what they learned in just eight weeks’ time and it is incredible,” Mary said. “They have the confidence and we have the confidence in them.”

Companies in the Charlotte area are catching on that there’s a rich talent pool right in their backyard, and Mary’s message to them is clear: “You don’t have to look anywhere else.”

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