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Courage, Tenacity, and Respect: Recapping the Fall 2019 Capstone Course

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The Fall 2019 Starkloff Career Academy Capstone Course officially culminates with a graduation ceremony on November 20, where 10 candidates will be recognized for completing our comprehensive, fast-paced curriculum for job seekers with disabilities.

Susan Menhard, Director of the Starkloff Career Academy, has overseen many iterations of the capstone course. She says that while the concerns of disabled job seekers are fairly consistent from one semester to the next, each class grows together and develops its own unique identity.

“Disclosing disabilities to employers, doubts about the reality of being hired in corporate America, and the struggles of mastering new skills are common reservations candidates express at the outset of the course,” Susan says. “Individuals participating in this particular group formed a gathering of courage, tenacity, respect for each other, and appreciation for all the course provides.”

Each participant found value in different aspects of the course. The corporate training component of the capstone is always impactful for candidates. The corporate trainers for this session included representatives from Olin, Nestle Purina, Wells Fargo Advisors and COCAbiz. Across the board, participants agreed that the filming and critiquing of their mock interviews accounted for the most nerve-wracking moments.

A series of guest speakers gave presentations on several important topics, including financial literacy, key aspects of affirmative action hiring policy, and understanding the behavioral interview process. Among the guest speakers for this session were Jim Beirne of Washington University, Catherine Hwang from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and Galen Gondolfi from the Justine Petersen organization. Susan was pleased with the level of interaction between presenters and job seekers.

“Candidates absorbed what was being presented to them and were not shy at all about asking questions,” Susan reported. “It is so exciting to hear the guest speakers tell me how much they enjoyed the experience and their positive impressions of the candidates themselves.”

Susan takes a great deal of satisfaction in facilitating each session of the capstone course. She looks forward to tracking the progress of all ten candidates as they pursue their individual career goals.

Although Susan is confident that the capstone course is producing well-informed candidates armed with all of the tools necessary to succeed, the ever-changing corporate landscape calls for constant evaluation and adjustment.

“The Starkloff career Academy team is always researching, analyzing, and consulting with our corporate and community partners to brainstorm different delivery formats,” Susan explains. “We are committed to remaining current with society’s advancing technology, hiring practices, and the evolving needs of our SCA members.”

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