In 2011, Yolanda Tompkins graduated from UCSF's Community Outreach Internship Program , a workforce development program focused on residents of disadvantaged San Francisco neighborhoods. This one-of-a-kind program includes a 10-week job-skills training class with program partner JVS (Jewish Vocational Services), followed by a four-month paid internship at UCSF.
After completing her internship at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine , Yolanda recently started a full-time job at the Physical Therapy Health & Wellness Center on the UCSF Mission Bay campus.
"Yolanda had never worked in an office and certainly not a health clinic, but she applied herself in every way possible. There were big challenges she had to face, but her dedication, natural intelligence, curiosity, and upbeat spirit -- along with the teamwork of our clinic staff -- ensured her overall success," says Diane Sabin, Administrative Director of Clinical Operations at the Osher Center, and Yolanda's mentor and manager during her internship.
Read on to hear from Yolanda about her experience as an intern, and her bright future at UCSF.
What were you doing before you got involved with the COIP, and how did you hear about it?
Yolanda: I worked for 17 years as a carpenter and then broke my hip. I was out of work for three years after that because I couldn't work. Then a friend told me about the program. I applied, had two interviews and then started my training at JVS.
What was the training and internship like?
Yolanda: It really teaches you how to approach a new job, from how to put together your resume, to computer skills office work and networking. Learning the skills, plus the people I worked with gave me the confidence and motivation I needed to keep moving forward. Some days were hard and coming from carpentry I was a hard shell to crack, but my teachers and boss [during the internship] would take the time to build me back up, telling me that I could do it. I learned that you have to take initiative and show people you want it.
What happened after you completed the Community Outreach Internship program?
Yolanda: After my internship at the Osher Center, I worked in the Pain Management Center on a temporary basis and then was laid off for about a month, but I just started a permanent job working in Physical Therapy at Mission Bay. I work at the front desk and meet hundreds of patients, checking them in and out, making appointments, checking insurance and so on. I've been here two weeks and there are about 20 physical therapists here. It's a good team, and they seem very happy to have me.
What do you like about your new job?
Yolanda: I feel respected, wanted, and needed in my new profession. And I really like working with patients and helping people. I have two false hips myself and went to physical therapy so I know what the physical therapy patients are going through. They are the most important part of my job, and I want them to feel secure about coming here. When they leave with a smile on their faces, it puts a smile on mine.
What's in store for the future?
Yolanda: I have a five year plan and want to continue with higher education. And right now I'm learning as much as I can at my job. I tell my boss I want to learn all about her job. I come in early and try to learn about new things whenever I can.
What do you tell people about the Community Outreach Internship Program?
Yolanda: The program is a motivational tool and a gift. I tell everybody about it. I'm like their speakerphone!