Newark, NJ — Twenty-seven-year-old Shaliyah Ali never imagined that she’d one day be walking through the doors of Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, NJ on a daily basis. When she was younger, the mother of two often passed by the towering building imagining who worked inside and wondering what they did. Now, thanks to Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS), Shaliyah knows from first-hand experience.
The city of Newark is unique; the downtown area is home to many large companies and distinguished educational institutions. And, while although too well known for its many challenges stem back to the unrest of 1967, New Jersey’s largest city is rebounding with new investments in tech, construction, and safety.
As part of her New Year tradition, Shaliyah sat at her computer and outlined what she wanted to accomplish in 2015, including going back to school and transitioning into a more stable career. At the time she had only completed two years of college, having put her education on hold to care for her young children as a stay-at-home mom. Shortly after the New Year, she applied to an ad for WOS’ TAP program: workforce training designed to help individuals from underserved communities transition into roles at Prudential.
As part of the WOS program, Shaliyah completed three months of academic studies at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), taking classes in business communications and management. Upon completing the academic requirements, Shaliyah began working at Prudential in their IT procurement department as a WOS consultant, where she received hands-on support and mentorship from a WOS Client Service Manager (CSM). Shaliyah recalls her CSM Valerie Echols being a critical component of her success, providing the motivation and reassurance she needed to succeed.
After working 15 months as a WOS consultant, Shaliyah impressed leadership so much so that she was offered a full-time role at Prudential as a Vendor Management Associate, overseeing procedures required to help the company acquire IT products. Shaliyah is not only changing the narrative surrounding employment in Newark, she is also breaking barriers for women and people of color in IT. “She’s a perfect example of what WOS is all about,” says Valerie.
“WOS brought out a side of me that I’ve always wanted to bring out for myself but never knew how,” said Shaliyah. “Growing up in Newark wasn’t easy; I had to learn how to be resilient and make opportunities for myself. With each milestone reached through the TAP program, I felt a sense of accomplishment feeding my internal drive to continue to do and be better. My life completely changed within a year and I’m extremely grateful. I’m excited to see what’s in store for the future,” added Shaliyah.