Meet Jalisa Nguyen! Jalisa’s one of our recruiters, but you may recognize her from our Employment Services program, where she served as one of our job developers. Jalisa has been with us since 2014 and has grown so much since she started as a support staff. We spoke with Jalisa to learn more about her journey at HMEA.
How long have you worked at HMEA?
I have worked at HMEA for a little over 9 years. I started when I was 19 years old. At first, when I was hired, I thought this would be a filler job until I figured out what I wanted to do, but I fell in love with the program I was in and the staff. The support system HMEA has is amazing, and I am so lucky to be a part of it.
In what program/location do you work?
I started out at HMEA as a support staff member, where I was helping 60 individuals. I loved this job and worked in it for three years. I then got the opportunity to work in TRACS (Transitional and Community Services for Adults), where I worked one-on-one with an individual. After a year of this, I went back to what I was doing beforehand under a new title called a Job Developer. Here, I would help individuals find and apply for jobs.
Today, I currently work in a recruiter position. I do miss working with the individuals, but I still see them when I do program visits, so it’s the best of both worlds!
How did you get started working with HMEA?
I joined HMEA right out of high school. I knew of the company because my aunt worked as a manager at one of the houses. I went to visit one day and loved the connections I saw between the individuals and the staff members, which inspired me to apply.
I then applied for a job at HMEA because I knew the company, its values, and who I would be supporting. I had planned on going to the residential house, but was advised to go to the program side of the company because it would have aligned better with my home lifestyle.
What was your career like prior to working at HMEA?
I only had one other job before HMEA, and it was working as a manager at McDonald’s.
Describe a typical day in your role.
Since I’m still new to the recruiter position, I’m still learning, but I am in charge of screening all applicants who apply through our website, which is about 10 to 15 individuals a day. I go through the applicants and call them to ask a series of questions. I also assist with HR work – making sure people have signed all the paperwork that is required. Finally, I make sure new employees complete their onboarding process.
What’s your favorite part about working at HMEA?
Working with individuals and forming those relationships is by far one of my favorite parts about working at HMEA. Watching everyone grow and develop is so heartwarming that you become family with everyone. We all lean on each other as a support system. Watching individuals get so excited over the smallest accomplishments is beautiful to watch.
Yes, there are more challenging days, but being there to constantly remind the individuals of the accomplishments they’ve achieved is so fun, and watching their frowns turn into smiles is a whole new feeling for me.
What are you most proud of during your time at HMEA?
When I first started the job development role, COVID hit. I was in the middle of transitioning into my new position, and HMEA ended up closing down for a while. When we opened up, we had 12 individuals return who lost their jobs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t support them, so they were eager to get back into the workforce. I put a lot of time and effort into finding jobs for these individuals.
Once we were fully opened, we hit our highest employment rate, and nine individuals got jobs! This was such an accomplishment for me because HMEA was short-staffed, as well, so I was juggling many jobs at once – going out to job coach, job development, my paperwork throughout the day, and being out on the floor as a support system to the other individuals. Hard work pays off!
What has HMEA done to support your development?
HMEA has helped me grow as an individual by pushing me to try new things. One of my supervisors had always said that she saw the potential in me to do other things and had encouraged me to apply for the recruiter position. I am in this new position because of her motivation and encouraging words. If I hadn’t listened to her, I would still most likely be in the employment services position. I am so happy I took her advice and am able to grow and learn from what HMEA has to offer.
HMEA has such a huge support system which is such a good feeling knowing that if you need help someone is always there for you and will help guide you through any challenges you may have.
What advice do you have for those who are interested in working at HMEA?
Working at HMEA is a rewarding job no matter what department you’re in. It is hard to put into words the change you get to make and be in the individuals’ lives. You will always form bonds and relationships with everyone.
While you work at HMEA, you will need patience, but remember that how you come into the work will decide how your day will be. Radiate positive energy because every day is different!