Ellie Erickson is a Youth Employment and Education Specialist for Guild’s Employment Services team and the CSP Member Center. Ellie has been with Guild since 2016 and enjoys providing clients with consistent support so they can achieve their long-term goals.
Q: Describe a typical day as a Youth Employment & Education Specialist.
A: My position serves young adults aged 16-24 in Dakota County. Pre COVID-19, a typical day consisted of client meetings at home or in the community, job development with employers to learn about their hiring needs, assisting with job search by completing applications, interview prep, attending interviews, career exploration, plenty of driving, support with education goals, and connecting with case managers, family members, or any other natural supports. We consider ourselves employment “generalists” because we do a little bit of everything and wear many hats. As many of you can agree, we also must be very flexible in our jobs.
Q: How did your career path lead you to your current position?
A: I always knew I wanted to be a voice and advocate for those who feel they are deemed “less than” in society. Whether it be due to low-income, poverty, disability, justice involvement, unemployment, substance use, homelessness, trauma, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and mental health, I want people to know they are worthy of being seen.
In January 2016, I started as the first intern on the employment team to finish my Graduate Degree in Vocational Rehab Counseling. When I was picking out an internship site, my professor printed out a list of non-profit mental health agencies in the Twin Cities, I picked out Guild, and I am so thankful I did.
Fun fact: My program manager for Employment Services, Peggy Darmody, has a dog named Ellie! So, it was destiny.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: Helping someone get their very first job. Going from “I don’t think I can do this” to “I CAN do this” is an incredible journey to be a part of. Not only do they build self-confidence, self-esteem, and purpose, but it has a positive impact on their mental health. It makes me very proud to see them grow and blossom!
I am also a part of a pretty stellar team. Peggy is a spectacular, supportive, and nurturing leader.
Q: What is something you’ve learned throughout your time at Guild?
A: It’s challenging to pinpoint one thing I’ve learned at Guild, but rather a few words: empowerment, connection, and confidence. We empower our clients by building trust, being a positive role model, and meeting them where they are at without judgment. Having one trusting adult in a young person’s life can make such a difference. We build connections with our community through education and advocacy of mental health, networking, strengthening our partnerships, and spreading the amazing work Guild continues to do. I have grown in my own confidence and stepped out of my comfort zone by public speaking on stage at Ladder of Hope, networking with business leaders and employers, and testifying twice to advocate for additional employment funding for mental health.
Q: What do you wish people knew about Employment Services at Guild?
A: Employment is such an important part of someone’s life, physically, emotionally, socially, and mentally. It provides so much more than just a paycheck. We see employment as a part of recovery. Our motto is to find the “right job for right now.” Sometimes finding a job is the simple part; the real work comes with keeping the job. We continue to provide consistent services, encouragement, and long-term support to help maintain employment.
Q: How does your team collaborate with other teams at Guild?
A: In my specific role, I work with outside mental health agencies, high schools, transition programs, and a youth housing complex called Lincoln Place in Eagan. As for our team in Ramsey and Dakota County serving adults, they get direct referrals from case managers and are embedded within the clinical teams. Our Scott County team partners with the Career Force Center in Shakopee, treatment court, and other referral sources. We all work together to provide the best employment supports within the three counties.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I am a proud puppy mom of a newly 1-year-old, Daisy! She is a Border Collie/Pit Bull mix. I love to do anything and everything outdoors, including hiking, canoeing, paddle boarding, walking Daisy, and just being in peaceful nature, which does wonders for the soul. I play on an indoor/sand co-ed volleyball league, which will be starting again in July. I consider myself an introvert and homebody, so I enjoy my time to unwind and recharge at home with Netflix documentaries, puzzles, and reading.