tagReviews & EssaysThe Job Company

The Job Company


Back in the seventies I was working for the County of Los Angeles Department of Health Services, after helping establish the first Free Clinic in L.A.

I created a job with the Health Department helping communities start their own private, non-profit, free clinics. Each clinic's services depended on the needs of their community.

In Compton, the American Indian Community needed a clinic to address its dental and alcohol dependency problems.

On the Westside of L.A. the problems were drugs and sexually transmitted diseases.

The Los Angeles Free Clinic was also providing employment services trying to find jobs for the counter culture, disenfranchised youth and hippies during the 1970s.

Sometimes trying to place a guy with a Mohawk haircut, facial tattoos and piercings was not easy.

Due to the difficulty of finding work for these "hard to place" individuals a new idea in employment services developed. It was called The Job Company.

The goal of this organization was not to fit people into jobs, but to try and find or create jobs to fit people.

By evaluating an individual's abilities and experience and then determining their desires vocationally, the counselor could then try to develop the perfect job for this person. The next step was placement, either immediate or by using transitional steps.

The following are examples of jobs created at that time.

Juan Cortez-

Juan was a forty-two year old Latino who took thirty Seconal a day,(to help him sleep) and was wanted in forty-eight states for jumping parole on a manslaughter charge.

Juan, thanks to his foster parents, learned about nutrition, health foods and proper food preparation. Despite his drug addiction and criminal record, he had maintained this knowledge and practiced good nutrition on a daily basis.

Another interest of Juan's was driving. He loved to drive. He occasional supported himself by driving taxis, doing courier deliveries and driving small trucks for junk removal.

The Job Company worked with the Department of Justice System to arrange a probationary period for Juan to go through detoxification.

Then the issues of job counseling and placement were addressed. After determining his needs, a health food catering service was developed by him, some friends and the Job Company, for Topanga and Malibu Canyon Areas.

Juan would prepare the foods and perform the delivery. He was very happy doing the two things he loved most. He not only remained drug free, he became very successful in his business and now has a fleet of health food catering trucks, throughout Los Angeles.

Melvin Bernard-

Melvin was a pimp living in South Central Los Angeles. He could not read or write but had always dreamed of being a newspaper reporter.

The one thing Melvin had going for him was his voice. It was hypnotic! He also was very tuned- in to his community and he seemed to know everything that was going on.

Up until the time he came to the Job Company, he had used his mesmerizing voice to turn out women on the street.

The Job Company helped Melvin create the "Tape Cassette Gazette". A tape cassette newspaper that had community news, reviewed local businesses and had a calendar of community events and entertainment for the South Side of Los Angeles.

It became very popular and Melvin soon became interested in community politics and is currently employed by the City of Los Angeles as a community organizer for South L.A.

Ron Billings-

Ron wanted to be a rock star. It was explained to Ron that no one can instantly become a rock star but his chances of reaching that goal would be increased if he enrolled in City College and took some music courses in piano, arranging and writing.

He was also given a job at a local music store. He is now on his way to learning to play a variety of musical instruments and is in the process of forming a band.

Traditionally, vocational counseling has been limited to finding jobs available and then see who can fit those positions.

The Job Company, although successful, went out of business, due to financial cut backs and lack of funding.

I believe that this kind of approach to vocational counseling could have far reaching consequences.

A new, innovative, "out of the box" type approach could be a very important answer to such problems as, mental illness, drug addiction, crime and homelessness.

It would seem that work is the one thing we must do throughout our lives to help maintain a healthy balance and pay the bills. Most people are not that happy with their jobs but are doing them just to survive.

They are trapped doing what they really don't want to do but don't know how to find out what they want to do or how to transition from their current position to that job.

Painters want to become CEOs. CEOs want to become painters. Housewives want to start businesses. Young adults are lost and not sure what they want. Many homeless and unemployed adults do not believe they can ever find a job and hold it.

One approach to finding out what you want is to ask yourself the question, what would I do with my time if I already had all the money I needed? Ask, what do I want to do, not what can I do.

A free non-profit organization offering vocational guidance and placement, dedicated to finding out what you really want to do and then helping you obtain this goal, is badly needed.

If we must be addicted to something in life, why not meaningful work?

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