'It was Incredible': Woman Lands Job One Day After Working With Workforce Development Librarian
Last fall, Joy Coleman returned home from two years of working abroad on a cruise ship and promptly started to look for a new job. The first step was to update her resume, but with her laptop in need of repairs, Joy headed to the Library to use a public computer.
There, she met Chris Lorenzen, a workforce development librarian in the New Orleans Public Library’s Adult Learning and Education department.
“I told him I was there to use the computers to update my resume and look for a job, and he told me that he’d be happy to help,” Joy recalled. “He took one look at my resume and said it was way too long, so we got to work editing it.”
That afternoon, Chris helped Joy get her 4-page resume down to a single page. The next day, Joy landed a job after applying with her newly edited resume.
“It was incredible! After Chris helped me edit it, we printed out a few copies, and when I was leaving the building, I saw a flyer for a job fair that was happening the next day. So, I brought my edited resume with me, and just like that, I got an offer,” she said.
In addition to having an edited resume, Joy said meeting with Chris made her feel more confident, prepared, and sure of abilities when she walked into the job fair.
“When we were editing it, we went over each job I had on my resume. We talked through my roles and responsibilities, my goals, and my strengths. It was almost like a practice interview, because when I left, I felt confident that I would be able to present myself well and connect my skills to the jobs I was applying for,” Joy said.
Almost a year later, Joy is still in the same job and loving every minute of it. But, that fateful day was not the last time she saw Chris.
“I don’t want to fall behind again, so I’ve met with Chris a few times to keep my resume up-to-date and learn more about other workforce opportunities,” she said. “Every time, he’s just as patient, just as kind, and just as helpful as the first time we met. He’s my go-to guy and I feel so lucky to have met him.”
Joy is even looking into going back to school for nursing, a goal she said she wouldn’t have considered if it weren’t for Chris.
“Working with Chris was such a pleasant experience, and it got me thinking – you’re never too old to learn,” she said.
“I think people, especially older people like me, are hesitant to go back to school or start a new career because they’re afraid. We’re afraid of how we’ll be treated or that we won’t be able to keep up with new technology and things like that. But, after Chris treated me with such patience and kindness, it motivated me to get out of my comfort zone and just go for it.”
While Chris proved to her she’s not too old to learn, Joy is not a stranger to the health and sciences.
“I was on the medical team on cruise ships during the early days of COVID, working in the labs to process tests. And before that, I worked with the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to distribute disaster relief aid,” she said.
Over the years, Joy has worked a wide range of jobs, but one thing always remains consistent – her desire to help.
“I love giving to people, and Chris gave so much to me. I’ll forever be grateful for that,” she said.
In Chris’s opinion, Joy deserves just as much credit for her flexibility and eagerness to modernize.
“Joy was really great to work with because she was so open to modifying and updating her resume based on current hiring trends,” Chris said. “We were able to make her post-Katrina training and experience shine, which helped her get the job she wanted almost immediately.”
For Joy, meeting Chris was a coincidence, but he’s part of a team of librarians who specialize in digital literacy and workforce development. Unbeknownst to her, when Joy wandered into the computer lab that day, Chris was working a “drop-in session,” to help patrons format resumes, write cover letters and look for jobs.
“I had no idea that the Library offered this service, but I am so glad they do,” Joy said. “It made such a difference in my life, and I’m sure it can for so many other people, too.”
Robin Goldblum heads the Adult Learning and Education team and said Chris goes above and beyond to address the root causes of digital divides and job opportunity disparities.
“Chris reaches far in our community, focusing on jobseekers’ needs and well-being on a daily basis,” Robin said. “He is a problem solver and enjoys bringing solutions to the table, which is welcomed and important in the adult learning environment. Chris wants to knock down barriers to create meaningful change, and that’s something I admire.”
Digital Literacy Librarian Izzy Oneiric rounds out the team and said Chris’ dedication to the patrons he serves is “truly inspirational.”
“He genuinely cares about each person and takes the time to listen to their experiences and goals, ensuring that every resume and workforce session is individually tailored to them. Chris exemplifies the Library’s mission and core values. It’s a privilege and joy to work with him,” Izzy said.
In addition to helping her land a job, Joy said working with Chris inspired her to explore other things the Library has to offer.
“Now I come here all the time,” she said. “It’s my happy place.”
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