By Mary McClements, Coordinator of Academic Services-Career Training Programs at CCV
Blake dropped out of school when he was sixteen and, for several years, tried to make a living on minimum wage which he just wasn’t able to do. He tried to start his own business, but with no real skills, he wasn’t able to succeed. Blake knew that, if he ever wanted to have a comfortable life, he was going to have to make a change. A friend of his, who had been in college for three years, had been encouraging Blake to go back to school. Then, Blake finally realized that the sooner he started, the sooner he could be finished. He signed up for classes at the Community College of Vermont and says he hasn’t looked back since.
After starting school, Blake had been working as a dishwasher for almost two years and was getting close to quitting. “I hated busting my butt for $9 an hour in a hot steamy room, coming home soaked with nasty food bits on me,” he said, “I just was burnt out.” One afternoon when Blake showed up for class, his teacher Tina approached him about his computer skills and proceeded to tell him about the Internet Internship opportunity. Blake recalls, “I had to take it; it was like destiny.”
Blake soon started at Cobleigh library in Lyndonville, assisting patrons with their internet needs. Here he was free to make his library schedule work with school. Since he started at Cobleigh, Blake believes that, “I’ve maybe had at least 60 people come to me for help, maybe even as many as a hundred. Almost every person who has come to me I have been able to help with everything, from making resumes to understanding how to navigate the internet.”
Blake has continuously gotten positive feedback from both patrons and the librarian at Cobleigh. A few months ago, Blake was informed that an employee of the library would be leaving and, if he wanted to apply for the job, he would stand a good chance of getting it. Blake applied for the position and now works part time at the Cobleigh library, something he loves and “finds amazing”.
Blake now aspires to become an English teacher at the high school level, or to be a librarian. “I love books, reading, and sharing what I have read with people, so I think either career would be great.” The Internet Internship Program has given me the opportunity to work on my teaching skills and share my computer skills, as well as giving me a chance to see what it is like to be a librarian.”
Everyone at VDEP and the Community College of Vermont couldn’t be happier for Blake!