More than 40 Veterans attended a unique event in June as a large team of recruiters from Google descended upon the VA Palo Alto’s Menlo Park campus to help share their knowledge and train Veterans in critical job seeking skills.
The first-of-its-kind Google and Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) Veterans’ Employment Readiness Fair brought together these two groups at the Menlo Park Welcome Center for a day of workshops and networking. The event, organized by the CWT, brought in 32 Google recruiters as part of the annual Google Serve program, under which employees spend the month of June volunteering in their communities.
Veterans received one-on-one guidance on an array of job search skills, from using online job boards and LinkedIn to resume writing and interview skills. They also got the chance to meet with representatives from Cushman Wakefield and Bon Appetit, who work with Google and shared insight into their hiring processes.
Tamar Woodbury, the Google lead recruiter who organized the event on their side, explained that Google Serve has given her the opportunity to work with diverse groups of people with noble missions over the years. This year’s event also happened to give her another unique opportunity: to work with her mother, CWT’s Development and Community Relations Coordinator, Dr. Hedva Porat.
“It’s really rewarding and humbling,” Woodbury said of the day’s work, as well as of her past volunteer experiences. “It feels great that we can use our skills and knowledge to help somebody else.”
Veteran Allen Wright, who has been working with CWT’s Transitional Work Program, said the event provided him a great opportunity to learn how to highlight his skills in a resume, or as he calls it, “to get to the meat on the bone.”
“She showed me how to highlight my strengths from previous experiences and how to translate my skills,” he said of the recruiter he worked with. “She gave me some ideas on how to sell myself.”
The event started with lunch and an opportunity for Veterans and Googlers to mingle and network and then staff from CWT presented the program and its mission.
To better illustrate the importance of CWT’s work, Veterans Abraham Hart and Thomas Gonzales each stood to tell their stories to the Googlers and Veterans, highlighting the changes that work has brought to their lives. Both Hart and Gonzales expressed how their investment in the program has enriched their lives and brought them a sense of dignity and self-worth as they strive toward their personal goals.
Google employee Karen Novaes, who was in town from Sao Paulo, Brazil for a one-week company training, said hearing their stories and those of the other Veterans was a rare and moving experience.
“It was a great opportunity to talk with people who don’t work in tech,” she said. “These are not people we are around every day at Google. People on my team are very open so it’s great to share this opportunity to talk.”
Another Veteran who attended the event, Michelle Scoggins, said that the recruiters were very helpful in providing insightful critiques of her resume. “We went over my resume format and details and discussed my background and my interests,” she said, happily adding that she received a lot of positive feedback on her resume and skillset.
Scoggins said she felt the event provided a great variety of assistance for the different types of job seekers present.
“It was balanced enough to give tips for people with experience who had been out of work for a while, as well as those with less experience,” she said. “The presentation was well thought-out. It was concise and allowed more time for the interactive part.”
Woodbury agreed that the event felt like a success, adding that it leaves the door open for potential future collaboration between Google and Veterans.
“A lot of people would like to see this become a yearly event,” she said.
About the author: Kameela Din is the Technical Writer for the CWT program, VA Palo Alto Health Care System