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06/29/2018 |

Or, if you plan on entering a field requiring an advanced degree, you may need to finish college before entering the workforce in your chosen occupation. Sometimes you can get a new career by taking a short certificate course at a local college or getting a certification from a certified instructor.

No matter what time, economic or other limitations you face, there are many routes you can take to reach your goal of getting the training/education you need. Here are a few to consider:

On the Job Training (OJT)

Though you don’t see as many on-the-job-training (OJT) programs as you once did they still exist. If you’re on public assistance through CalWorks or PAES (Personal Assisted Employment Services) you may qualify for one program called JobsNow! The JobsNow! program connects job-ready participants with local employers willing to offer on-the-job training. Ask your Human Services worker about the program or go to the JobsNow! website for more information:

Don’t qualify for JobsNow! When you’re doing your regular job search on,, (or any of the other sites you may use) do an advanced search using keywords or phrases like “will train”, “on the job training” or “entry level”.

Also the city of San Francisco offers free training in a variety of fields including construction, tech, hospitality, and healthcare. Go to their website at and scroll down to “Job Training” to learn more.

Get Paid and Learn (Become a Temporary)

Need to build your resume? Changing careers? Or just need a job fast? Working as a temporary employee is one way to get free training, while getting paid a regular wage.

Many employers opt to keep temporaries for months or even years. Why? They don’t have to pay insurance or deal with benefits and taxes. And because it’s not a permanent position, as long as you give adequate notice to your agency, you’re free to go when something better (i.e. permanent with benefits) comes along. If you choose, you can even take a series of short term assignments, learning a variety of new skills at each. It’s a great way for someone who doesn’t know what they want to do to figure it all out. You can reference the position on your resume, along with the new skills you’ve learned. (Temp jobs are also be useful if you need flexibility in your schedule.)

By the way, companies often will offer to hire a temporary employee if they do a good job. Want to see for yourself. Go online or check the phone book (if you still have one) to find temporary agencies in your area.

Earn Your Diploma/GED

Obtaining a high school diploma or GED (general equivalency diploma) can be a big step in the right direction if you’re looking for employment. As a matter of fact, it may be a necessity since many training programs (and employers) will not accept applicants without their HS degree or GED. Luckily, there are several resources in the city offering training, including Success Center SF. We offer free tutoring and diploma/ GED trainings at our new Independence High School location. Call 415-753-7690 or check out our website at: for more information on our diploma / GED trainings.

Also Five Keys offers diploma/Ged trainings throughout the city for individuals of all ages. For more information go to their website at:

Get a Certificate or a Degree (Community/4 Year College)

Community colleges are a very economical way to get training. Locally, City College of San Francisco has a number of classes and certifications in a variety of fields. Certificates / certifications look great on your resume, especially if you’ve been out of your occupation for a while. It not only proves competency in your field, shows initiative and more. (FYI: SF City College just announced they’ve expanded their free offerings. All of their courses, included degreed may now be free to San Francisco residents with some restrictions. See this SF Gate article for more details.)

If you plan on going into a field requiring a 4 year or more advanced degree, the Bay Area (for that matter, the state of California) offers a number of choices. California residents can save by going to a state school and taking the “resident” discount. Save even more money — take as many of your prerequisite courses as possible at a community college then transfer later.

Using WIOA (What is a WIOA?)

Currently on unemployment? You may qualify for federal funding for your education/training. The Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) gives money to unemployed workers help them become more competitive in their job search.

Learn more by going to the CA EDD page ( and click on the “Eligible Training Provider List” link. Or if you live in San Francisco, call one of your local Neighborhood Access Points (NAPs) or Comprehensive Access Points (CAPS). Currently The Comprehensive Access Point at 1500 Mission Street, San Francisco 415-5754570 is the only one that directly handles WIOA funding. But if you need other assistance, such as use of free computers, faxes, and more the staff at any of the city’s Access Points can point you in the right direction, like our own Western Addition Neighborhood Access Point (1449 Webster Street, 415-549-7000.

Find a Mentor

Getting passed over for promotions or not even getting considered for the job you really want? Consider getting a mentor. It’s a career building powerful tool.

Women and minorities should especially consider mentoring. It offers not only offers a path to learning but helps you make contacts and build networks you may otherwise not have access to (especially if you work in a field where the rest of the workforce generally does not look like you.)

Though there are many formal mentoring programs through networking groups, colleges, and associations, you can create your own informal mentor program. And because these relationships are created by the “mentee” and the “mentor” you can be structure them anyway you like.
A couple of examples:

You’re currently working but not in the job you want. (You’re ready for management, they keep offering supportive roles.) Talk to someone who’s got (or had) the job you want and ask them if they’ll be your mentor. If they say yes, pick their brain. How did they get where they are now? How did they ask for the job you want? To make sure you’re getting full benefit of the relationship (and to keep from wasting time) you two should set up a few rules in advance.Your mentorship agreement may be to meet for an occasional coffee at lunch time or emails while you discuss job strategy. Or it can be just touching base on the phone or emails, letting them know what you’re doing and getting their thoughts. Or it could be something entirely different. It’s up to you.After they’ve known you for a while they can be a needed ally when you’re ready to ask your supervisor for that promotion. Or they may have someone in their network who is hiring in the field you want to be in.
Don’t have anyone at your current job who’d make a good mentor or currently not working? Maybe you just graduated and need help getting your first professional job or you’re trying to transition from one field to another? You don’t have to know a person before asking if they’ll mentor you (though it helps). Go through your contacts. Ask your family, your friends. Someone may work with the person who would make the perfect mentor for you.
Search Through Trade Association Rosters

You can also find mentors by searching online for trade associations or networking groups in your field. Start attending their events. Mix and mingle. After networking for a while, you should find your person. Also, email the staff at trade association using their generic “information” email addresses to see if they have suggestions. They may know of members or other formal mentor programs.

Don’t Forget Social Media

You can also find potential networking groups on LinkedIn, and other social media sites. You can review profiles and if you see someone that’s a good match, contact them to see if they’ll mentor you (or know someone who will). Send them a brief, professionally written introductory email along with your resume.


Many employers look to graduates of internship programs, like the previously mentioned free healthcare, construction, tech, and hospitality programs offered by San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (see more at ) to verify a candidate has the skills they’re looking for before hiring. For example if you’re interested in a field in healthcare, many of the city’s Healthcare Academy training courses can be completed in 6 months or less. Get the training you need to become a CNA, medical assistant, medical administrative assistance, etc. in just a few months.

Or the four month EXCEL medical administrative assistant program offered through University of California SF (UCSF). The EXCEL program gives medical terminology training and more. Though going through their EXCEL program doesn’t guarantee you a job at UCSF if you do a good job it certainly puts you at the top of their list (along with the lists of other Bay Area medical facilities).

Find out more about their program at

Train Yourself (Self Learning– online and books)

With the internet, you can learn just about anything you want from the comfort of your own home. Some of the better known online training sites include: Udemy ( and Coursera ( Many of their courses are taught by college professors or instructors from renowned schools.

If you still prefer the tactile pleasure of a written book (I know I do) stroll down to your local library or go to a used book store (college book stores are often a great source of educational books) and grab a few volumes on your subject.

Learn by Doing Good (Volunteer)

Last but not least, you can always go the volunteer route. Nonprofits are always looking for help and may be willing to provide training and they often need the same services as for-profit companies. You can offer your services at a nonprofit for a few months or a year. Put that experience on your resume, then turn around and return to the for profit world. You may be able to volunteer part time while still holding down another part time or full time jobs. Just make sure when you choose a volunteer position that offers you the ability to really learn the skills you need.

And if you need help finding a nonprofit go to, , or any of the other many useful sites out there connecting nonprofits with volunteers.

by Merrie Triplett

Tags: Liz Jackson-Simpson | scsf | success center sf | training | workforce development.