Changed For Good

Changed For Good

When Alan* reflects on his career and personal journey since working with JVS Career & Employment, he can’t believe how far he has come.

Today he is a manager at an accounting firm, while also pursuing a higher degree in Human Resources.

“I can’t believe I’m here right now in this position,” Alan said. “I’m happy right now.”

But that wasn’t always the case. Just two years ago, when he first moved to Chicago, Alan was in a self-described state of despair. He was escaping an abusive marriage and came to Chicago not knowing anyone. On top of that his identity had been stolen and he was taking steps to fix the overwhelming situation.

“I had almost given up on living,” he disclosed.

While attending therapy, he heard about JVS’ services and soon began working with Career Counselor Sandra Saltzman.

Sandra learned that Alan had 18 years of accounting experience and that he wanted to add Human Resources to his resume. He met the criteria for a JVS training grant and with Sandra’s help Alan completed his Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) certification through Northwestern University’s Professional Development courses.

But despite Alan’s extensive accounting background, Sandra said they faced certain challenges in the beginning of his job search. He was limited during the process because, due to his stolen identity and safety concerns, he was not able to present professionally on social media platforms or have the visibility that a job seeker would normally promote, Sandra said.

“He had to be very low key about things” she said. “Here he has all these strengths and skills, but if employers can’t see a strong social media presence, like on LinkedIn, they’re not interested.”

So Sandra presented Alan with the idea of changing his identity. She referred him to an immigration case worker at HIAS who was familiar with the legal processes for changing one’s name, and after several months he had a new identity.

Once he had a new name, Alan was ready for employment and quickly found an accounting job where he has advanced and is considered a valued employee. In May, he will graduate with his bachelor’s degree and in August he will begin his master’s program.

“I’m in the best position,” he said. “It’s something that I love.”

*name and some details changed for anonymity