Client Journeys: Gladys Aslam

Linking Talent with Opportunity

Gladys Aslam had worked in clerical positions for more than 20 years when she was laid off from her job as a production manager at a court reporting firm in Arlington, Virginia. Her son urged her to join him in Atlanta, where he assured her she would find ample job opportunities. She moved to Atlanta in 2009 and immediately started applying for jobs.

“I submitted applications, but I never heard back,” Gladys recalled. “It’s hard to search for a job when you don’t have many connections in the community.”

Gladys decided to try changing careers to find greater opportunity. She hoped to work in the medical billing field, so she enrolled in a coding and billing program. When she resumed her job search upon graduation, all leads turned out to be dead ends.

“Most employers wanted five or more years of experience,” Gladys said. “The school didn’t tell me that when I started the medical coding program.” 

Gladys was frustrated with the job search process and struggled to pay her bills. Then she learned that her heart condition qualified her to receive help from the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency.  At the GVRA, Gladys learned about Bobby Dodd Institute’s STEP program, and she asked her counselor, Ms. Wynn, to connect her with BDI.

Through BDI’s STEP program, Gladys was interviewed about her interests, experience, and goals. Her job connections specialist began immediately sending her information on job openings.

“I knew I didn’t need training,” Gladys explained. “I’ve got the skills and experience. What I needed was job leads.”

In December 2015, after working with BDI for one month, Gladys’ job connections specialist suggested she attend a job fair for the DeKalb County School System. She was hired on the spot.

Gladys credits BDI with turning around her job search experience: “I started looking for work in 2009. If it weren’t for BDI, I might still be searching.”

Gladys now works as a clerical substitute for the school system. It’s an ideal job for someone who is semi-retired because it gives her flexibility. She calls in to let the school system know she is available to work, and she is placed on an assignment, which can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. She currently works at a school front desk, but her assignments have included helping the school system’s transportation department transition its bus route and driver scheduling to a paperless system.

Gladys loves that her job gives her the opportunity to get out of the house and interact with school teachers, administrators, and parents. Because she changes assignments regularly, she is always learning something new. Gladys says this makes her excited to go to work.

The financial stability her job provides has also made life much easier for Gladys. Employment has given her the security that many of us take for granted.

“Now I don’t worry as much. It’s a relief to be able to pay all my bills and to still have some money left over for myself afterwards. I’ve opened a savings account. Things are starting to look up. I am very grateful.”

Ability One Georgia Enterprises United Way