We at Jails to Jobs highly recommend Toastmasters International and recently discovered that the One-Stop Career Center in Irvine, Calif. hosts its own chapter, an idea that other One-Stops or job-development agencies might want to consider doing.
Toastmasters provides excellent training for job interviews. With more than 270,000 members in 13,000 clubs in 116 countries, it was founded in 1923 as a nonprofit organization that helps its members develop public speaking and leadership skills. Clubs meet weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, depending on the location, and meetings last for an hour to an hour and a half.
In a very supportive environment, members take turns speaking on various topics, and the organization is set up to train them to be able to do so. New members receive a manual with five speech projects to get them going. After completing these, they can move on to an advanced communication series with 15 different manuals. Each of these manuals also outlines five speech projects, and many of them are career-related. Members receive awards as they progress through the program and are encouraged to take on club leadership roles. A special manual teaches leadership skills, and members are often guided by mentors who have previously held the position they assume.
Each club has its own personality and types of members, but at the One Stop Toastmasters Club #4637 in Irvine those involved include job seekers, who may come as guests as they search for jobs and can join the club if they find work in the area
The club, which formerly met at a software company that ran out of space to host it, has been at the Irvine One-Stop for two years. It provides a much-needed venue for job seekers to improve their communication skills, and its membership includes One Stop staff members. Stephen Springer, a disabled veterans outreach program specialist with the State of California Employment Development Department, is one of them.
“Toastmasters is vital for developing interview skills, especially the Table Topics section of Toastmasters, where you get impromptu questions,” he says.
Springer thinks that having a Toastmasters club connected to a One-Stop is a great idea. “It helps clients. Once you get the word out and make it available to clients, they can see how getting involved in a chapter helps them learn to communicate better to employers and to people around them when they’re marketing themselves,” he adds.
And being able to effectively communicate one’s skills and abilities is key to finding opportunities in today’s competitive job market.