Posted February 27, 2007

Temple reaches out to the community for some fresh faces

Rochelle Johnson, a life-long Yorktown resident, used to battle rush-hour traffic for an hour to and from work each day. But now her commute consists of only a five-minute walk.

Temple University means more than just books, grades and herds of students rushing to classes – to some living in the local community, it means jobs.

As one of Philadelphia’s largest private employers, Temple wants to improve the community in which the University is located by collaborating on a regular basis with local community leaders and by offering targeted employment-related training, development and coaching programs to local residents.

The goal of Community Outreach and Hiring, a specialized office within the department of human resources, is to expand recruitment efforts in the surrounding area that include North Philadelphia’s diverse communities and assist qualified applicants in successfully applying for positions at Temple and other local employers.

Rochelle Johnson
Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg / Temple University
“The Temple students, faculty and staff exude a tremendous amount of energy — I wanted to be a part of that energy. For the first time in my life, I can truly say that I love where I work.” — Rochelle Johnson, a technical support specialist, works in Computer Services at the Help Desk.

“A more urban university, like Temple, is always thinking about how it impacts the surrounding area,” said Bill Hart, co-director of the program and long-time North Philadelphia resident. “We realize that the future of both Temple and the surrounding communities are interconnected and this partnership will build on that relationship.”

Community Outreach and Hiring is working to build a relationship with four distinct populations – high school students in local high schools; Temple’s graduating seniors who are from the local community; local residents from the surrounding neighborhoods looking for new jobs and residents from the area who would benefit from training or contemporary skills to help them find new or better employment.

Janel Bowles, who shares directorial responsibilities with Hart, said that Temple understands that job-preparedness and the need to strengthen professional skills are essential qualities many employment seekers must face – wherever they may apply. That’s why the goal of the program is to train residents with skills that will help them find jobs anywhere in the city, from the most basic to the most prestigious.

Christine Williams
Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg / Temple University
“I love working here so much because I enjoy interacting with the doctors, who work and teach at the university, and the students, who are studying hard to make a difference in North Philly’s future.” — Christine Williams, a secretary, works in the Anatomy and Cell Biology Department at the Health Sciences Center.

Johnson is a shining example of what the program does best, her extensive knowledge and experience as a computer specialist made her a target candidate for a job placement at the TECH Center when it opened more than a year ago.

“When I heard about the TECH Center opening I really wanted to be a part of it because I knew it was something new and rare to find in this community,” she recalled.

“Indirectly, [Community Outreach and Hiring] made my dreams come true.

When I wake up in the morning I actually look forward to going to work.”

Christine Williams is another of the program’s success stories.


Hired as a secretary in the Anatomy and Cell Biology Department at the Health Science Campus, Williams, who has lived near the University her entire life is starting to see Temple in a whole new light.

“I think the perception of Temple is changing, people are realizing that the University wants to help make things better for community,” she said.

The program also provides bi-weekly mailing to community leaders with up-to-date job postings. Since most employers prefer electronic applications, Harry Young, the associate vice president of human resources, said “that it has been an underlying objective of the program to assist residents, without strong computer skills with the support they need to apply for positions on-line at Temple and elsewhere.”

Another component of this initiative is to impact high school students before they enter the work force. Bowles said she and Hart work closely with the President’s Office and community leaders to determine what the needs are of the students living in the area so they have the skills to search for careers.

“Our goal is to assist residents in their job endeavors,” Hart said. “We try to help people develop the skills they need, guide them toward job openings, provide them with feedback about their interviews and help them build their confidence to do it on their own.”