The history of the Albert J. Sutton & Sam N. Sasson Career Services Network, a division of Sephardic Bikur Holim, spans a generation. What was once a one-woman operation is now a fully staffed organization, utilizing community networking, a website, and simple kindness and consideration for everyone who makes that initial call.
First, A Little History
In 1992, when the Syrians emigrated from Syria to America, they needed lodging. Mrs. Yola Haber remembers those days, and labels her career during that time as “being in real estate.” Her basic job was to place families in suitable dwellings. However, she realized the families also needed jobs to support themselves in their new country. When Yola approached her boss and asked who will find them jobs, he simply said, “You will.”
So Yola became a real estate expert and a Job Developer. Yola would sit with the employment ads to see what might be suitable for her clientele. She worked out of one room within the SBH building. Many jobs were offered by the merchants of the community who offered positions in their warehouses or stores stocking merchandise. There was no need to speak or understand English, as the Syrians would work together and speak to each other in the language they knew best, Arabic. But that would change, as their children were placed in schools and were taught English. More than a few parents learned English from their children, and the community also offered English classes or referred the new immigrants to organizations that taught English to non-English speakers.
The immigrants were happily placed in merchant jobs and slowly branched out to run their own businesses. However, there was an obvious need for the community to have a place where anyone could find guidance searching for a job.
Mrs. Rita Shabot
Soon Mrs. Rita Shabot was hired as the second employee, in addition to Yola. Rita started about 23 years ago doing job placement. Her background has always been in Human Resources, and eventually she grew into the position of Director of Career Services Network. As Director, Rita has implemented many changes over the last ten years, as the needs of the community, and the world at large, have changed. The bulk of the directing and guiding job developers and implementing the various programs are in Rita’s hands.
Rita spoke about actual statistics. Four hundred people have been placed in jobs/careers over the last year. Now free classes are offered to teach basic computer skills, QuickBooks, and Excel. In the last year three hundred fifty people took advantage of this offer to either brush up on their computer skills or to learn new ones to make themselves more employable.
The Syrian/Sephardic community was known as a community of merchants, with a sprinkling of doctors and teachers. Now, careers in finance, technology, and the services have become more prominent among young graduates. There had to be a way to not only answer the call for this new generation, but also to help people who, during the economic downturn, lost positions that paid them salaries in the six digits. Also CSN had to be able to help women entering the job field or switching jobs.
Although one can apply online to be a client of CSN, it is recommended to make a phone call to Rina Elbaum, the Intake Specialist. That initial interview will set the stage for your future success. Rina evaluates you and your readiness to interview; what type of job you are looking for, what are your likes and dislikes, your strengths, and your resume, or lack of one. Whether you need your resume to be upgraded or written from scratch, you are in the right place. Rina contacts the resume writer, Michele Shrem, who reaches out to you to make an appointment. You don’t have to wait long for a dignified, professional resume. Michele’s background is in Human Resources. I can personally vouch for Michele, who did an excellent job of rewriting my current resume.
Guide, Empower, and Motivate
Vicki Massre is the other job developer who runs the GEM Young Professionals program, which aims to “Guide, Empower, and Motivate.” Thisprogram was created specifically for the up and coming young professional in college or about to graduate. They place students in summer internships and run several programs for those interested in finance, technology, or e-commerce. The program has become so successful that interviews for bank positions have been held right at the CSN offices in on Kings Highway. 164 matches have been made in all career fields so far.
CSN has four dedicated Co-Chairs. Michael Wahba, Ely Harary, Nemo Gindi, and Mark Hazan volunteer their time helping CSN increase productivity in order to reach new heights. They help with networking for the clients, and assist with running the division on a daily basis. CSN is also fortunate to have a volunteer interview coach. Mel Feinberg tirelessly gives of his time to prep clients for their interviews, specifically to advise and counsel the clients in job readiness and how to answer difficult interview questions. He recently coached his 400th client!
The Jersey Shore Branch
The Sephardic Bikur Holim Tawil Family Jersey Shore branch in NJ has a Job Developer as well. Shiri Zimmerman can be reached by calling her at the CSN number, 718-787-1400 ext. 122. More and more positions in New Jersey are opening. Having a local branch of CSN has been very important in reaching the entire community.
However, whether you live in New York or New Jersey you can apply as a job seeker or can register as an employer offering a job on the user friendly website, http://csnetworks.org.
The website is easy to use but everyone is requested to come in to meet with the intake specialist, Rina Elbaum. Truthfully, you will see that this makes a difference.
My own personal experience with Career Services Network began over 18 years ago. I moved half way across the country and was staying with my parents in NJ. One day I get a phone call from a job placement specialist for Aguda in Chicago. She told me that she was at a convention and had met a lady named Yola Haber, who helps those in the Sephardic community find jobs. All it took was one call to Yola, an interview with her, and the same day she sent me to Ahi Ezer Torah Center for an interview. I was asked when I could start working.
My job search days have returned. Just before receiving the request to write an article about SBH’s Albert J. Sutton and Sam N. Sasson’s Career Services Network, I started the job search process myself, meeting first with intake specialist Rina Elbaum. The next step was to revise my resume. Hashgaha Pratit had it that the day before my appointment to have my resume rewritten, I was on assignment interviewing the Director, Rita Shabot, and the whole team. I was even able to reconnect with Yola Haber, which gave me an impression of the full circle and full service this organization provides. I saw one of Cookie Setton’s computer classes at work, and got to interview my new job developer as he took the opportunity to interview me.
On a personal level I recommend whoever is searching for whatever type of job – go first to the Career Services Network. Even if your future job comes from a different source, you will benefit from some aspect of the process.
Call Rina Elbaum at: 718-787-1400 ext. 221. Rina will call you back and start the process for you. Job hunting, changing careers, or searching to find the right fit with a new career can be stressful. Rita Shabot and her team are there to help you succeed.
Career Service Network’s Job Developers and Specialists
Sofia Sutton– Job Placement, all positions
Sigalit Mizrahi– Job Placement, all positions
Moshe Zeitouni– Job Placement, all positions
Shiri Zimmerman– NJ Job Placement
Yola Haber– Job Placement, entry level jobs
Sara Eliau– Computer Class Program Coordinator
Melanie Falack– Job Database and Data Entry