Working Iowa: Opportunity Center in Cedar Rapids helps people gain employment

People looking for jobs in the area can find support at the Opportunity Center inside the Ladd Library in Cedar Rapids.
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 7:11 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - People looking for jobs in the area can find support at the Opportunity Center inside the Ladd Library in Cedar Rapids.

Erin Maeder is the Program Coordinator at the Opportunity Center. She helps people who stop by.

“Hopefully find employment that meets their criteria in terms of scheduling, income requirements but also to help them avoid getting stuck in cycles that are leading to change in employment frequently,” Maeder explained.

She often sees people facing barriers to employment from childcare, to housing, language barriers, and criminal backgrounds.

“Usually they’re telling me they need help finding a job, but after you get talking to people a little bit you find out some things that you know they’re struggling with various barriers,” said Maeder.

The Opportunity Center is a place anyone can go for assistance in their job hunt. There’s help putting together resumes and practice doing mock interviews. And the fourth Thursday of each month, a ‘Grab a Job’ career fair takes place at the Library with the help of IowaWORKS.

“We have a lot of individuals that come in, and they have a great experience with talking to employers at the career fair,” Maeder said.

People coming in are finding jobs, they’re success stories Maeder loves to see.

“A mom brought in some of her teenagers and the next day one of them came back and told me that they got hired on after the career fair because they were able to come in get that application in, get support with putting a resume together, you know teenagers, they’d never put a resume together before,” said Maeder.

The Opportunity Center is open Monday through Friday with varying hours typically posted on Facebook, or people can call ahead. It’s a resource in the community, helping people find jobs through support.

“Even though I’m providing some support along the way, really they’re taking that control on their own and they’re reaching those accomplishments themselves,” Maeder said.

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