News: NCNG Employment, Ed Center fills almost 200 jobs in less than six months
Story by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell
RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina National Guard’s Employment and Education center, here, has successfully assisted nearly 200 soldiers, airmen and qualified North Carolina Guard dependents to find work since opening in June 2013.
The EEC teaches guardsmen and their families how to get the most out of their education benefits and connects them to potential employers.
In addition to linking up employers and service members, the EEC assists North Carolina soldiers, airmen and their qualified dependents by offering workshops on building resumes, promoting personal accomplishments and experience through social media and conducting mock interviews to foster confidence.
The center also supports service members at welcome home ceremonies after deployments as part of the Department of Defense’s Yellow Ribbon program, meant to inform and educate them upon returning from deployments about benefits and military resources available to them.
Joshua Villegas is one of 12 employment specialists who work at the EEC, providing these services and acting as a liaison between employers and service members.
He said he enjoys knowing he is helping fellow guardsmen, who they refer to as candidates.
“I get a feeling of relief,” said Villegas, who is also a sergeant with the NCNG’s 514th Military Police Company. “Some of my candidates are really struggling out there in the civilian sector and knowing they landed employment takes a great burden off of my shoulders.
“I become a friend and a mentor when I make that initial phone call with them and knowing that I assisted them find employment and securing a position brings me a great sense of pride,” Villegas said.
Villegas has personally helped over 50 N.C. service members and dependents find jobs since the center opened. He routinely spends time with his candidates, prepping for interview, tweaking resumes and checking on them every step of the way.
One of Villegas’ recent success stories involves a soldier he had been working with since August of this year. In early October, Villegas learned of an opportunity that would involve a 10-step interview process that may benefit them.
“Every week I talked to the soldier once or twice to see how the process was going and to be a listening ear for him,” Villegas said. “On the 21st of November he called me to let me know that he will be placed on the payroll on December 2nd. I felt wonderful and proud knowing that I was the first person he called to say that he had gained employment.”
Although he found the soldier a job, Villegas said he will continue to check in with him.
“I told him I would still be in touch with him along the way, just to see how his family is doing.”
The EEC continues to raise the number of families they have helped by assisting them to network with employers in hopes of filling more jobs with soldiers and airmen from the NCNG.
“We have established great contacts and have learned so much within the short time we have been open,” Villegas said. “We can utilize these tools to help our unemployed service members. This program is key because it helps out members not only maintain a happy home life but also makes them better guardsmen.”
The EEC is open to all North Carolina National Guard members and qualified dependents.