Friday, February 26, 2021

For individuals looking for a job, finding the right position is more than just the job itself. It’s a chance to gain work and life experience. For University Housing and Dining, it was an opportunity to partner with the local community.

Erik Isenhour, an assistant manager at Catlett Market Place, said that this partnership came about over a year ago. During the beginning of the academic year the market place managers found that Burge, Catlett, and Hillcrest Market Places were typically understaffed on student employees. In order to address this, University Housing and Dining reached out to Goodwill in Iowa City and the Shelter House for temporary employment. “It all started with hiring one individual who received short term job coaching support. Things went well, that we asked for additional candidates and it grew from there.” he said.

Goodwill, a not-for-profit organization, provides job training and employment placement services to individuals who have barriers preventing them from obtaining a job. These barriers can be a factor in the job search process. “Job candidates that work with Goodwill often times struggle to get hired. This could be due to a lack of experience or due to employers in the community not knowing how to work with an individual with a disability. Many of these candidates are often times some of the best employees as they are reliable, they want to please their supervisor, do what is asked of them, and bring positivity to the workplace setting,” said Anna Roth, job placement specialist at Goodwill of the Heartland. “We were so fortunate enough that University Housing and Dining was able to see the strong work qualities these individuals possess and offer them employment.”

For individuals working with University Housing and Dining, these positions allow staff to develop a wide variety of skill sets and experiences. Temporary employees working in the three market places assist in everything from assisting in station management to prepping food items to providing sanitation of surfaces. Roth says the benefits for these individuals go far beyond the job itself. “It’s a huge accomplishment for our job candidates to be employed, and then to be employed by the University of Iowa is an even bigger accomplishment,” she says. The benefits that this type of partnership brings allows employees to find a flexible schedule that their needs, team-building skills, time management, accountability, and ultimately connection and contribution to the local community.

For Isenhour, he sees each individual employee as a success story. “While we hire these individuals and get them a job, it’s ultimately these individuals that who are showing up each day,” he says. “They all have great attitudes and are always willing to help. We have seen so many benefits from this partnership, not only for our unit, but within the larger University scope and the community as a whole."