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Ethan Heisler: Helping first-time workers overcome employment challenges

When Ethan Heisler graduated from university, he didn’t know how to apply his degree in history to the working world. Most corporations do not have their own historian or archivist on staff—and, it was the abstract thinking he learned as an undergraduate that was going to be most compelling to employers.

Today, Ethan Heiser is thriving professionally in the Advancement Department of USC’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. His journey to getting there started when he decided to try one-on-one career counseling at JVS SoCal.

Undergraduate students often encounter a new set of challenges as they transition into the next phase of their lives. For Ethan, who had recently completed his bachelor’s degree at San Jose State University, the struggle was finding a role in which he could apply his advanced knowledge.

He had limited work experience and felt that his reserved and introverted personality was getting in the way of securing meaningful employment. “Interviews never got past the second round and that was starting to frustrate me,” says Ethan. He realized he needed help.

He found JVS SoCal’s career counseling services sponsored by the Jewish Federation. The program is designed for job seekers to have one-on-one support to evaluate their interests, values, skills, and personality to increase their potential of finding meaningful employment.

Ethan worked with Rachel Cohn-Schneider, a nationally recognized counselor with 40 years of experience helping people identify their career options.

Utilizing an array of career assessments, they narrowed his competencies to be ideal for an administrative setting. Rachel also challenged Ethan to consider the broader job market; she advised him to open his mind to diverse opportunities to enhance his chances.

“She suggested the nonprofit/fundraising route as something to look at” says Ethan. “Before, I never considered it at all.”

Ethan also practiced interviewing through one of JVS SoCal’s interview skills workshops, a service that includes mock interviews to help job seekers practice and receive feedback.

Personalized job search support also includes essential skills, like resume writing. “They checked my resume, and it needed some changes,” he says. Once Ethan had applied the feedback, he noticed the results immediately: “That was a game changer.”

In 2021, Ethan landed the interview for his first role at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Science as a project coordinator. Equipped with the tools he received from the program, he landed the position.

“I never considered that there are thousands of employees at universities, says Ethan, “To find a place for me at USC was beyond belief, and I did it”

In the Summer of 2022, he was promoted to Advanced Project Specialist. That same year, he started working on his Master of Public Administration Degree at USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. He credits his counselor at JVS SoCal with instilling in him the confidence to move ahead in his career.

If you’d like to help other people like Ethan find a rewarding career that combines what they love doing with the ability to earn a good income, consider donating here.