Skills For Chicagoland’s Future Helped These Women Find Employment And Hope

Chicago Mayor’s Office
4 min readApr 19, 2016

Earlier this month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Skills for Chicagoland’s Future (Skills)announced that 1,000 unemployed and underemployed Chicagoland residents have been connected with jobs in 2015, and they plan to place more than 1,100 this year.

Since Skills was launched, funding from the city of Chicago has supported more than 60 percent of job placements. More than 40 percent of the placed job-seekers came from neighborhoods experiencing unemployment rates higher than 20 percent.

Juwana Dorsey and Elizabeth Jones are two Chicago residents who faced hard times due to unemployment. They both demonstrated commitment to the job search but still had no luck. After going months applying for job after job and never hearing back, they connected with Skills. Read their stories below.

Juwana Dorsey introducing Mayor Emanuel at the Skills For Chicagoland’s Future event

Skills For Chicagoland’s Future Helped Me Get My Life Back On Track

Juwana Dorsey, Chicago Resident and Skills Participant

In December 2014, after living in Minnesota for a few years, I decided it was time to move back home to Chicago with my young daughter.

The next 11 months after I moved back was a very hard and stressful time in my life.

I immediately dove into my job search, sending out application after application, but never hearing a response.

I had to move in with my parents while I looked for a new job and took care of my three-year-old daughter. I thought I had great experience in hospital environmental services, but even though I used every job search website that I could find, no one was responding to any of my applications. My unemployment insurance soon ran out and I had to rely on SNAP to buy food, and the bills started piling up. It was clear I had to try something new.

In November, I saw a job posting for an environmental services technician at Rush University Medical Center. I applied, and was contacted very soon afterwards by a Skills recruiter.

After months of searching on my own, it was such a relief to have my Skills recruiter, Mayra, there to support me through the hiring process from start to finish.

She didn’t just pass along my resume to Rush. Mayra took the time to get to know me, and then prepared me to give an interview at Rush that would show my strengths.

I couldn’t believe how fast everything happened! Rush offered me the job just two days after I interviewed with them.

Working at the hospital has been a great experience. Everyone is very warm and professional, and they did a great job getting me started.

I’m currently a part-time employee, and I hope to one day move to full-time. For now, Rush offers me plenty of extra hours, which I am happy to take!

After being unemployed for so long, I still feel excited to be working again, and thanks to Rush, I’ve been able to move into my own apartment and support my daughter. Skills for Chicagoland’s Future and Rush University Medical Center helped me get my life back on track.

Elizabeth Jones sharing her story at Skills for Chicagoland’s Future event. Photo by Brooke Collins

Getting Back On My Feet After Life Got Very Tough, Very Quickly

Elizabeth Jones, Chicago Resident and Skills Participant

After 16 years of hard work in the beauty and retail industry, life got very tough, very quickly, for me and my family.

I had to put my professional life on hold to take care of my dying father-in-law. Over the next two months, between the lost income and my father-in-law’s funeral expenses, our situation became desperate. We had to make some difficult choices just to stay above water.

We cut back on just about everything to get by. I even had to move my son to a different school.

When the time came for me to go back to work, I hit the ground running, but it was truly a struggle to find a job.

I must have filled out close to 200 job applications without much response. Then a friend at church referred me to Skills for Chicagoland’s Future.

My recruiter, Joseph, told me about an opening to be a “Lead” at Ulta Beauty. The position was in management, and it sounded like a great opportunity that would also have potential to grow into more.

I interviewed with Ulta twice, and I was really impressed by the company culture. It seemed like a positive atmosphere where employees treat each other like family. All throughout the hiring process, Joseph would check in with me to let me know he was still pushing for me at Ulta.

I still remember the day I got hired. My husband and I went to the lake, prayed and ate ice cream. Not long after I started, I was promoted to Operations Manager.

I feel excited each day that I go to work. I love that I get to work with people and develop relationships. I’m always trying to take on more responsibility, and I see a lot of opportunity ahead of me at Ulta.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future.