Gleniss Wade serves as the DCSEU’s Workforce Development Program Manager. The program works to connect District residents who are new to the workforce, between jobs, or looking for a career change with local contractors in the green economy.
Q. Can you tell us about DCSEU’s Workforce Development Program?
A. The DCSEU’s Workforce Development Program is probably one of the best programs in the DMV region. We service DC residents who are unemployed or underemployed residents who are interested in sustainable green jobs. Twice a year the DCSEU connects DC residents with green externships for up to 5 months where they work with local contractors and other organizations.
Q. How are externs selected and paired with mentors?
A. First we find out what our contractors, who serve as mentors, need as far as skill sets are concerned. Once we’ve determined what they need, then we seek out or source for those candidates to be placed in our program. We try to have at least three to four candidates for them to interview. And then… well, they interview them. If the mentor feels that one of the candidates is a good fit for their organization or company, then they are selected.
Q. How does the program help prepare externs for the job market?
A. We offer training through mentorship and professional development. Externs in the program come to the DCSEU office once a week for additional soft-skill training for assistance in resume writing, cover letters, and elevator speeches. We offer the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED GA) preparation class here and externs may also gain Building Operator Certification (BOC) as well as other related courses to gain a national certification.
Q. What separates the DCSEU’s Workforce Development Program from other programs in the District?
A. We’re one of the few programs that are up to five months long. We allow the externs to really learn their craft during that time. Externs work a full time 40-hour work week and are offered a living wage, as opposed to a stipend. We have great people in this because they are willing to go through the entire process of pre-selection.
Q. What is your relationship with the externs?
A. I have a really close relationship with almost every extern because I am the person they come to daily for anything that they need. I walk every one of them through the process and screen the for candidates, so I’ve already spent a lot of time with them before they begin their externship.
Q. When the externs are finished, how you do normally feel during the graduation ceremony?
A. Its always an emotional time, not just for me, but for the externs as well. We all feel a sense of accomplishment. I get really excited about graduation and I’m happy for them. I’m also happy for myself because I’m getting ready to start a whole new cohort!