Ready to take the next step in your career? Visit the career center closest to you. Learn more.

June 6, 2024

After a long career in the title insurance industry, Barbara Gegan, now in her 60’s, faced the harsh reality of job insecurity. After her company downsized and she was struggling to find stable employment, she contacted the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) and enrolled in the Older Adult Workforce program as part of the program’s first cohort. Barbara developed the tools she needed in the program to adjust to a changing workforce. Below, Barbara describes her experience and explains how a robust support system is essential to enduring the current job-hunting landscape.   

B065cebe Aed3 43c7 9e56 B5b0652f506a Edited (1)

I came to San Diego from New Jersey in 2010 after being laid off from my company. My son had just graduated from high school, and we decided moving would be an excellent opportunity to get to know his father’s side of the family. When I first got to San Diego, I learned that most of the title insurance industry was based in Orange County. So, I started to try something new and that is when I originally learned about SDWP. Through one of their programs, I began taking courses to become a certified Phlebotomist. Just as I became certified, I was offered a job in foreclosure and decided to take it due to the better pay.   

Due to a company merger, I was again laid off. Since my first position in foreclosure, I have been laid off or changed jobs for better salaries or job titles. However, until this recent layoff, I have always easily secured new positions in a short period. After almost a year of unemployment, I was losing hope. The job market was evolving, and my experience and skills no longer seemed valued. Ageism felt like a natural barrier and I worried that I would never find another job.  

That is when I decided to visit the East County Career Center and connected with my program specialist, Kimberly Pitts who recommended that I join the Older Adult Workforce program. She became a beacon of hope, helping me enroll in the job readiness training and connected me with a career navigator. With their guidance, I often learned about job openings, job fairs and resources to broaden my employment opportunities. Kimberly’s support was crucial during this time. She helped me realize that my volunteer work provided me with transferable skills and experience to leverage in my job search. 

In February 2024, I found temporary employment with the County of San Diego Registrar of Voters as an election worker. This opportunity was a stepping stone, and Kimberly supported me in finding a more stable position. At the end of April 2024, I landed a full-time job at Pride Industries as a Life Skills Coach. This new role not only provides more hours and pay, but it has also provided me a more stable environment where I can help people. 

I received consistent, supportive services throughout the program, including basic needs assistance, gas, work clothing and equipment. The cohort was filled with people who had similar barriers to their job search as me. The sense of community and support from my cohort was invaluable. We shared our struggles and successes, making the job search process less isolating and bearable. 

Today’s job application process is impersonal and challenging, with computers filtering resumes based on keywords. It can be demoralizing, but having a supportive group and resources made a tremendous difference for me. I would not have realized this as a possibility without Kim’s guidance. Her dedication opened new possibilities and ideas for my career path. 

To anyone facing similar challenges, I urge you to persevere and have patience during the job application process. It may feel cold and brutal, but with the proper support, you can navigate it. You are still worthy, and you will get there. Having people to support you is incredibly important, and I am grateful for the support I received on my journey to finding a fulfilling career. 

Connect With Us
Stay in the know

The Workforce Partnership is dedicated to providing San Diego Residents with the most up-to-date resources for finding a career.

Subscribe to our newsletter.