Nicole Hall's journey came full circle last year when the 2018 Alumna was hired as Opportunity Junction's new Professional Skills Instructor.
When Nicole Hall graduated from the Administrative Careers Training program in 2018, she had no idea she would end up back at Opportunity Junction, only this time, as a full time employee!
The Journey to Career Training
Prior to joining Administrative Career Training, Nicole became a single parent. It was a challenge to manage work and raising four young children all alone. "After 14 years with the same company, I landed on public assistance. It was really hard because I had been working since I was thirteen years old," she says.
During this time Nicole persisted, working as an administrative assistant in the Welfare to Work program at East Bay Works. She realized she didn't have the computer skills she needed, ultimately leading her to Opportunity Junction's Administrative Careers Training (ACT) Program.
Nicole exclaimed, "I loved OJ and everybody that worked there. It offered so much more than the hands-on skills of getting a job. It was the first time I was able to open up about my past, and that gave me confidence to keep reaching higher in my career."
The Journey to Career Advancement
Not long after completing the program and earning an excellent job, Nicole experienced a serious health scare. It took more than a year of uncertainty, doctor's visits, and a tremendous amount of her own research and self-advocacy to overcome it. After her personal experience, Nicole felt the calling to help others navigate the complicated health care system. She also recognized her strengths of empathy and listening, and wanted to pair those with her passion for helping others. Using the confidence she gained at Opportunity Junction, Nicole worked through her anxieties and fears to become a Certified Nursing Assistant.
Nicole loved her new role as a CNA, and mentioned falling in love with everything about the job. Wanting to reach even higher in her career, Nicole decided to continue her education.
The Journey Back to Opportunity Junction
Upon starting her prerequisites for nursing school, COVID-19 hit hard. Being a high-risk individual, Nicole took the threats of the global pandemic very seriously. "I loved my job. I didn’t want to quit but I made the hard decision to put in my resignation," she explains.
She explored every option for next steps in her career while prioritizing her health and safety. "Out of the blue, I got a call from Brianna (VP of Programs at Opportunity Junction). She said she had an opportunity for me to consider. Before I even knew what the job was I said 'Yes!'."
Nicole is now providing life skills and professional skills training to students in our Certified Nursing Assistant training program. She continues to find herself outside of her comfort zone, learning new things, and building her confidence but most importantly she is doing what she loves – helping others!
Nicole says, “My favorite part about my new position is talking to the students. Since I have been there, I feel like we can really relate and they seem comfortable opening up to me.”