Brunswick nonprofit offers free career-planning classes

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BRUNSWICK — Writing a resume used to be as simple as telling your professional story.

But in today’s job market, where a potential employer might use a computer to scan a pool of resumes for the right keywords, the rules of the game have changed.

Now a statewide nonprofit with a location in Brunswick wants to teach people how to tackle the changing landscape of today’s job market – and they want to do it for free.

New Ventures, a 38-year-old nonprofit organization with offices at Southern Maine Community College at Brunswick Landing, is offering no-cost career-planning classes in Brunswick starting Sept. 28. Registration is available online at newventuresmaine.org.

According to Erica Quin-Easter, regional manager for New Ventures, the classes have a two-pronged goal: to prepare students with the tools to negotiate an actively changing, increasingly competitive job market, and to help students find more meaningful work by discovering their talents.

Sue Pinette, a graduate of the program and a Brunswick resident, sought both goals.

Pinette enrolled in her first New Ventures course in 1995 when she was living in Presque Isle. At the time, she was a stay-at-home mom who needed what she called “some help and some direction getting back into the job market.”

Pinette said the computer skills she acquired in a New Ventures course called “Career Life” helped her score a job at a press clipping service.

But when she moved to Brunswick a year ago, Pinette looked to New Ventures to provide her with the skills to find meaningful work.

“I took what we learned in class and talked to people,” Pinette said.

The class taught her the basics of “networking,” which encouraged Pinette to call on small businesses and organizations around Brunswick and ask about job responsibilities and level of satisfaction. It was after conducting these kinds of interviews that Pinette eventually found a job as a retail associate at Goodwill.

“It felt like a good, comfortable fit, and I hadn’t considered that until I started looking at the big picture,” she said.

Quin-Easter said in an interview last week that while the mission of New Ventures is to empower people toward greater economic security, building camaraderie “is really at the heart of it.”

“Sometimes it feels like everyone in Maine in doing something on the side,” she said. Teaching people how to plan their time and optimize their resources might be the thing that turns a hobby into a small business, or simply “the difference between someone breaking even and someone comfortably supporting their family.”

Demographically, students in the program are as diverse as the reason they sought out the program, although the classrooms tend to skew toward more women, according to survey data provided by the organization. But “the thread that ties different goals together,” Quin-Easter said, is a desire to “normalize the transition” between jobs.

Pinette recalled her classmates included a woman who was considering starting a new business, a recently divorced woman who needed immediate work, and a person who was searching for something more fulfilling.

“We came for variety of reasons, but shared our stories and resources,” she said. “It’s great to have someone with experience to follow along with. We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

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Reporter on the Brunswick/Harpswell beat. Proud Bowdoin grad that you can find reporting on municipal, school, and community news, or inside the many coffee and sandwich shops around the Midcoast. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100.