Turning a Layoff Into an Opportunity

Laid off worker explores new industries thanks to WIOA.

After almost two decades at Oscar Mayer, Jenn was dislocated due to a plant closure. She connected with the WorkSmart Network in December 2016 as part of a Rapid Response session to obtain services and support under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Dislocated Worker Program.

Jenn was committed to turning the layoff into an opportunity. With help from her WorkSmart Career Planner, she explored other industries and decided to pursue the Medical Lab Technician Degree at Madison College.

In her first two semesters, Jenn received straight A’s but in spring 2018, she faced roadblocks that led her to reevaluate the Medical Lab Technician pathway.

Jenn utilized the resources available to her – both through WIOA and the college – and examined other medical programs where she could apply the coursework and skills she already learned. Her Career Planner suggested the Optometric Technician program and helped her tour the lab space. Jenn decided to enroll in the program and began classes in fall 2019.

Jenn excelled in the program and passed the state certification exam, but her education didn’t end there. She completed the Clinical Optometric Assistance (COA) course, which provider her with more in-demand skills to offer employers.

When she began searching for work, Jenn’s Career Planner helped ease her nerves by assisting with resume updates and interview preparation. Jenn also disclosed that she didn’t have any interview outfits. Her Career Planner connected her with the college’s Career Closet where she picked out a few pieces to help boost her confidence.

After graduation, Jenn was hired as an Optometric Technician at UW Health earning $17.39 per hour. She’s happy to be a graduate of the program and working in a great career.