GOSO is able to reach hundreds of justice-involved young men each year because we have a strong team of dedicated and passionate individuals who show up each day, ready to hit the ground running. All of our team members bring unique talents and perspectives to our organization, and our work wouldn’t be possible without each person’s contributions.
This week, we’re introducing you to our GOSOWorks dynamic duo: Nick Zolnierowski, GOSOWorks Manager, and Anna Kalm, Employment Development Associate. Nick started about a year ago in the position Anna holds now, and was quickly promoted to his current role of manager of our employment program. Anna was an intern with us for about a year before joining us full time at the start of the summer.
Nick and Anna connect GOSO Guys to fulfilling jobs with a network of about 100 employer partners across the city. Each day they work together to solidify funding for GOSOworks, build new partnerships with local businesses, and ensure our participants are successful in their placements and beyond. If you’re interested in becoming a GOSOWorks employer partner or getting in touch with Nick and Anna, contact email@example.com.
Read our interview with them below:
What is your role at GOSO?
Nick: As the GOSOWorks Manager, I oversee all aspects of the employment program, which helps our eligible participants get paid internship-to-employment and direct employment opportunities.
Anna: I’m the Employment Development Associate, so I get to support Nick with everything from developing new partnerships with businesses to finding job opportunities for our adolescent participants.
Why did you decide to work at GOSO?
Nick: When I was searching for a job, I came across GOSO, and its values strongly relate to my own social justice values. I was excited for the opportunity because employment development was something I had a lot of experience in, so I knew I could bring a lot to the role.
Anna: I originally got placed here as an intern through the Guggenheim Fellowship program, which was an opportunity offered at my school, Barnard College. The fellowship places people in organizations that are in the criminal justice field. I was interested in learning about the justice system and working specifically at GOSO because they offer a lot of freedom to try out different things within the program. I loved working here as an intern, so when they had a job opening, I had to apply!
What’s your favorite part about your job?
Nick: I love that I get to work with a team of brilliant colleagues from many different backgrounds, who all bring their passion for social justice to this work. I also love coming to work everyday knowing that hopefully I will be able to help somebody in some way.
Anna: I love that my role here is very interactive and social. It’s different every single day — every hour even! Everything is very fast-paced all the time, and I find the rush of it very exciting and I get to think on my feet.
What is one of the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Anna: People have very big dreams, and trying to fit that into reality can be hard. If someone wants a certain kind of job with certain hours and that’s not what exists, that’s hard because you know people personally and really want things to work out for them. We have to find a balance between what is needed and what’s available in terms of job placement.
Nick: The biggest challenge I face in this position is making sure that a participant and a placement are a good match. While most of the time they are, there can often be uncertainty if a participant doesn’t have much job experience and isn’t sure what he wants to do.
What qualities do you look for in an employer partner?
Nick: Any employer who is willing and able to treat our participants as if they were any other employee. My ultimate goal is for GOSO participants and other employees to be indistinguishable in how they are treated.
Anna: I want all of our partners to be supportive, communicative, straight-forward, and organized to make working there as positive as possible no matter what the task is.
Can you share a story of a meaningful moment you had while working at GOSO?
Anna: I love seeing guys after they were nervous about an interview, and the interview turned out to be really successful! This has happened a lot even in just my short time here.
Nick: It just means a lot to me when I can tell that a job opportunity, or a connection made is truly helping someone. I get up everyday and come into the office because of these small moments when I can tell the work is working.
Why should everyone care about the work that GOSO does?
Nick: One thing we do is fight recidivism, and I think everyone should care about that. Through our program and beyond, people get to be productive members of the community and are legitimately finding success and fulfillment by focusing on education, employment, and emotional wellbeing – (GOSO’s famous Three E’s).
Anna: I’m really passionate about what we do. Our staff is doing the important work of combating systemic injustices in a way that’s meaningful and not patronizing.
Other people should care too because it works. We have our outcomes that prove our recidivism rate is lower than the national average, and that our internship placements result in full-time employment. The data shows that reentry programs are effective in keeping people out of the system. And I think on a human level, people should care about other people and that’s something that GOSO does — provides space for people to support each other.
What is the most important personal attribute that you bring to your job?
Nick: A healthy mix of patience, understanding, and ambition.
Anna: I make the jokes, and Nick makes good dad jokes. I have a good sense of humor, and I think that’s important in this job.
What’s a piece of advice that you want to pass on to participants?
Nick: We see all the hard work you are doing, please don’t ever stop.
Anna: Always be everywhere five minutes early. You can and should ask for what you need and you deserve to self-advocate.
What is something you’ve learned from being here and working with participants?
Nick: One thing I’ve learned is that everyone’s background is unique and everyone has had their own struggles and triumphs. I’ve been figuring out how each unique individual can be successful in their own way.
Anna: I think a lot of our participants are incredibly resilient and I really admire them. I don’t know if I’ve learned how to be resilient for myself yet, but I hope to learn that from them.