Apr 10, 2024
Author: Trenton Soup Kitchen

Empowering Career Journeys at TASK

Introducing Mary Uhlir, Employment Support Specialist  

Mary Uhlir, TASK’s new Employment Support Specialist, has forged a career through helping others with their own career journeys. From her first job as a case manager in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services to her newest role as TASK’s Employment Support Specialist, Mary has always been driven by a desire to help others.

Over the years, Mary has helped job seekers in a variety of roles, including running orientation workshops at the Los Angeles County Office of Education and serving as the Cal Works program director at Mount San Antonio College.

Even in retirement, Mary’s passion for service persisted. When she moved to Banning, California and found the town had no support services for the unemployed. She came out of retirement and started workshops to help the unemployed with their resumes and interviewing skills.

“My involvement in Toastmasters International and my volunteer work in women’s prisons over the years prepared me for my next job with the Riverside County Jail’s New Beginners program,” Mary recalls. In the New Beginners program, Mary helped inmates prepare to search for a job upon release.

In 2023, Mary embraced a new opportunity when her husband’s promotion led to a move to New Jersey. A few months later, she joined TASK’s Education & Employment team. Mary works alongside Sean Ford, Workforce Development Coordinator, whose responsibilities include the recruitment, onboarding, and academic support for career training programs. Mary is responsible for working with job seekers to help them develop resumes, learn interview skills, and identify jobs that match their skills and areas of interest.

Mary Uhlir offers career counseling to TASK patron Edward Sutton

Mary works to understand the preferences and challenges of each individual job seeker she encounters. New job seekers fill out a questionnaire that includes the jobs they have held in the past, their education level, languages spoken, ability to access transportation, and more. Mary uses the information on the questionnaire to begin a conversation with the job seeker about realistic goals for their employment search, as well as aspirational goals.

“I talk to job seekers about practical things like how to explain gaps in employment, incarceration, or other negative factors by helping them focus on the progress they have made, rather than their mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, after all.” Mary explains. “I learn what experiences, skills, and aspirations each job seeker has so that I can identify good prospects for employment and career growth.”

Mary emphasizes the importance of communication to job seekers. She encourages them not only to work with her to prepare for interviews, but also to contact her to work through issues with co-workers and supervisors after they have been hired. Mary believes that most problems can be worked through with effective communication.

Mia Hart, Director of Education & Employment Programs at TASK says, “Mary brings an extensive background that includes working with the incarcerated and returning citizens populations. She also co-authored a job search handbook. Mary’s facilitator skills will allow, for the first time, in-house soft skills training for patrons. I am excited to have her join the team and optimistic about her contributions.”

Mary Uhlir’s story embodies the spirit of empowerment and service, inspiring hope and fostering brighter futures for TASK patrons.


Tag: Adult Education - career counseling - Job Search - Success Stories - Trenton Area Soup Kitchen - Date Posted: Apr 10, 2024 - Author: Trenton Soup Kitchen