Posted on Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Workforce-WednesdayCollege was something Geneva Garrett dreamt about but for one reason or another always felt out of reach. When the doors to the company where she spent a 30 year career closed in 2011, Garrett had no luck finding employment in her hometown of Bristol Virginia.  

Searching for help, Garrett reached out to the Virginia Employment Commission who introduced her to Ashley Prater with People Incorporated of Virginia. Prater helped Garrett enroll in Virginia Highland Community College (VHCC) where she graduated summa cum laude with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Accounting in April 2014. 

“All my life I wanted to go back to school and never had the opportunity so this was fantastic when it came,” said Garrett.

With her educational dream realized, Garrett set out applying for jobs. She soon realized that companies were passing over her resume when they saw she was older and had no experience yet in accounting. 

In April 2015, People Incorporated of Virginia was contacted by a growing tree removal company, Associated Tree Service.  The company was looking for an accounting/payroll clerk.  When Prater offered the idea of On-the-job training (OJT), Garrett jumped at the chance. Garrett was referred to the company and was hired after meeting with the owner.

OJT is a training strategy that the workforce investment system can offer local employers and job seekers. OJT puts unemployed workers back to work earning a wage while receiving training. Even better, employers can be reimbursed for the costs associated with training this new employee.

Through OJT, Garrett received hands-on skills in payroll, income and unemployment taxes, accounts and payables/receivables. She received positive evaluations from her employer during her entire participation in the OJT program and was hired full-time upon her completion of the program. She is very satisfied her new career. 

Although Garrett credits VHCC with teaching her the skills she needs for her job, she doesn’t count out more education, particularly when it comes to computer knowledge.

“When my daughter started college at Virginia Tech years ago, I told her mom was going to go back to school too”. And she did it!

For more information on OJT and credential/certification courses offered at Virginia’s Community Colleges, contact your local college’s Workforce Development Office'

Amanda Christopher

Amanda Christopher is a graduate of Hollins University and Virginia Commonwealth University. A native of the DC metro area, Amanda worked in public relations for the American Red Cross before joining the Virginia Community College System as the Workforce Communications Coordinator.

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