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Career Launch: The missing piece in my job search puzzle

Career Launch alum Anthony Melena shares how the program helped him get his job search on track

Anthony, a young man, stands outdoors smiling wearing dark glasses and holding his mobility cane

I used to think that getting a job was easy. Graduate high school, go to college and voilà, a job would be granted, simply because I’d sat through four-plus years of sleep-deprived lectures and never-ending assignments. Boy did I have a lot to learn.

In 2019, I graduated from UCLA with my BA in sociology. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of employment, but I was sorely disappointed when I still found myself unemployed nearly two years later. The job applications had become fruitless exercises that I forced myself to complete weekly, and the rare interview that I did manage to get seemed like nothing more than a tease by the time the Zoom call was ending.

Of course, the Covid pandemic was a huge reason that everything came to a standstill for part of that time, but as the country began to reopen, there was nothing more frustrating than to hear things like, “There are so many jobs, and nobody wants to work.” Well I did, and whatever I was doing to achieve that goal needed to change, because my stubborn determination was slowly but surely turning into a bitter disconnect in the process.

Ever heard the saying “It’s not what you know but who you know?” It’s quite true.

It took me months to realize that I had succeeded in amassing an extraordinary assortment of tools, but that nobody was interested in talking to a toolbox.

Anthony Melena, Career Launch Virtual participant, Fall 2021

I had dismally failed when it came to tapping into the only thing that keeps us from ending up on these self-made islands of hopelessness: the people around us. It was the missing piece to this dreary puzzle.

Finding the missing piece to my puzzle

On a whim, I began looking for opportunities to talk to anyone about my situation. And why not? I had wasted so much time trying it on my own that, at this point, I was willing to put messages in bottles just to have conversations with someone other than myself!

That’s when I came across Career Launch and the Perkins School for the Blind.

The Career Launch program promised to teach blind and visually impaired adults the skills and the training for employment in the spectrum of customer service. This included industries such as retail, human resources, health and technology, and even the medical field.

More important to me, however, was the notion that someone that answered my call, and was offering to walk with me through the process of finding the meaningful employment that I had been searching for since graduating from UCLA.

It was better than I could have ever imagined. During the intensive eight-week program, I learned everything from Google Suite and lessons on the fundamentals in business, to improv lessons and job simulations to help me be as prepared as humanly possible, and know how to proceed when the right opportunity came along.

It had been a long time since I had felt that kind of support outside of my home. Every step of the way, every lesson felt like music to my soul, and just what I needed to find the confidence that had been eluding me.

Now, I am happy to report that I have found a job that I love. I learned a lot about myself these last two years – undoubtedly the most important being that we can’t do everything alone.


Want to learn more about the Career Launch experience? Meet some other alumni.

If you’d like to learn more about the program, visit our website or contact us today!

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