After months of unemployment, Ruqiya desperately wanted to work, but was frustrated in her job search and didn’t know what else to do. After discussing options at the African Community Center (ACC), arrangements were made for her to attend a combination of one-on-one Supplemental Employment Services (SES) appointments and Job Club to help her learn tools critical for her job search.

At first, Ruqiya seriously doubted her capability to communicate effectively. “Before Job Club, I didn’t know how to greet people or give a handshake,” says Ruqiya.

A single mom, Ruqiya is a refugee from Somalia, where she says the cultural norm is to avoid too much direct eye contact. Learning the cultural differences in body language made a big difference in the way Ruqiya presented herself. At SES, she began practicing body language essential for U.S. interviews and meeting potential employers in the community: eye contact, confidence, and a strong handshake.

Ruqiya gradually warmed up to the idea of taping practice interviews and going out to ask for job applications on her own. After several weeks of learning and preparation at SES, Ruqiya started bringing in applications on her own from community businesses. Then, after submitting several applications, she received good news: Ross Stores, Inc. wanted to set up an interview. After all of her hard work and practice, we knew she was ready! Ruqiya was hired a week later, and beamed as she told us about her first day of orientation and having a manager she really likes.

Now Ruqiya is encouraging other unemployed ACC community members. The week after getting hired at Ross, Ruqiya was overheard talking with another community member who just started attending Job Club, encouraging her to stick with it, because “these people will help you.”