Menzi Salazar, a post-9/11 Army veteran, has a service-connected disability, and was unemployed. She was referred to the Tierney Center for Veteran Services by one of our community partners, Adrian Conger at the OC OneStop. Caleb Garcia, one of our Job Developers, then began assisting her.
Menzi served in Germany as Mess Administrative Specialist in the Army. She is bi-lingual in English and Tagalog, an Austronesian language with about 57 million speakers in the Philippines. She is currently married to another Army veteran, who is a chef, and they are raising a child together. Currently Menzi and her family are living at her father’s home.
One of the barriers to employment Menzi experienced was her interviewing skills, due to her shyness. Additionally, she was considered over-educated because she has earned two Masters Degrees and a law degree.
When Menzi came to us she had been through more than 20 interviews without being employed. At that time, she was discouraged and desperate and was willing to take any job. She was even tempted to take commission-only jobs, sales jobs or waiting tables.
Menzi was interviewed by our Veterans Services Manager, Jeff Pagano, and by our Vocational Rehabilitation Program Supervisor, Bill Morisette. Bill and Jeff identified and agreed that Menzi’s interviewing skills were weak and needed improvement. At that time Bill Morisette took over her case and did a resume analysis with her and readjusted her resume to fit several Federal jobs to include the EEOC, Social Security Administration, Department of Labor and a few others. These positions were more in line with her education and skills, as well as her aspirations.
We invited Menzi to attend one of our Veteran Business Network mixers, where she could connect and meet other veterans in business in Orange County. There we met her husband, Chris. This allowed Menzi to become more self-confident in meeting new people and being social in a business context, make some connections, and get some business cards for follow-up.
Through the Tierney Center Menzi went through more than five hours of one-on-one interviewing skills training. We also had her husband there to observe what she needed to work on. He also worked with her in mock interviews at home to help her build her skills.
After she was confident that she was prepared for interviews we sent her to the EEOC to interview for an investigator position, in Los Angeles, where she was the second person on the hiring list for a direct hire. Bill Morisette talked to the hiring manager, Tom Profit the Director of HR, where he reported her interviewing skills were fine, it was just her job skills did not match the position being offered.
Bill then setup an interview for Menzi with the District Manager, Tiffany Simmons, of the Social Security Administration where after the interview she referred Menzi for a background check and wanted her for a paid internship as an administrative assistant.
That same week Bill setup an interview for her with Social Security Agency in Garden Grove, CA for an administrative clerk position with Lance Lee, the District Manager. The interview went very well and she was offered a paid internship but no position as they were under a hiring freeze at that time.
Bill also set Menzi up with an interview with the department of Labor. Menzi met with Nancy Ise, The Director of Investigations for an Examiner/Investigator position, but was not offered the position.
Menzi was given a second interview with the Director of the Social Security Administration in Garden Grove and got the paid internship on November 7th where she now works.
In an email from Menzi to Bill Morisette before she got the internship, she said, “I can never thank you enough for giving me pointers, Chris and I practiced last night. We drove and found the place right away.”
Bill heard from Menzi recently and she said she is applying for two new positons with the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Labor that she heard about through our email blasts. Even though she is in the start of her internship she continues to actively pursue a permanent position. Menzi continues to maintain weekly communications with Bill on how her internship is going. Menzi loves her new internship and hopes to get hired permanently.
Before when we met Menzi, she was doubtful and discouraged, but now she is upbeat and has much more confidence and hope about the future for her and her family. With her new confidence and skills, we know she will do well.