Stephen Colella, Job Club Rhode Island director

GETTING CONNECTED: Job Club Rhode Island Director Stephen Colella says the organization has worked with more than 1,800 clients and helped place them with more than 100 employers. 
PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
GETTING CONNECTED: Job Club Rhode Island Director Stephen Colella says the organization has worked with more than 1,800 clients and helped place them with more than 100 employers. 
PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY

PBN Leaders & Achievers 2023
Stephen Colella
Job Club Rhode Island

Director


IF YOU HAVE NOT been on a job interview lately, Stephen Colella wants you to know things have changed significantly.

In the past, a job hunter typically met in person with a human resources director and the potential boss. Today, many interviews are done virtually on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Just dealing with that technology can be a headache for nervous interviewees, Colella says.

“You have to make sure the lighting is good, and your mic is working,” he said. “We coach them with experts in mock interviews. It’s a totally different vibe.”

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In 2009, Colella launched Job Club Rhode Island, a West Warwick-based volunteer organization that coaches the unemployed and underemployed using job search techniques. Since then, Colella, the program director, says Job Club has worked with more than 1,800 clients, helping place them with more than 100 local employers, including United Natural Foods Inc., Toray Plastics (America) Inc. and U.S. District Court.

Job Club also gets referrals from the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, and its LinkedIn group numbers 800.

Colella grew up in Providence and earned a master’s degree in divinity but realized the ministry wasn’t for him. What intrigued Colella was human resources, and he found his niche in job placement and career counseling. He was as a vocational rehab counselor at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, Mass., before retiring in 2021.

Colella says job hunters are grappling with another new challenge. Now anyone who’s involved in hiring wants to weigh in on your candidacy, he says.

“Having to go through multiple interviews is the biggest hurdle. I’m coaching someone now who’s had seven rounds of interviews over three months and it’s still going on,” he said. “That beats people down.”

Colella says he’s learned how humbling it is when strangers ask for help as financial support is running out. Ultimately, though, reaching a positive outcome is in their hands.

“We tell them, with all the coaching and help networking, we can lead you to the border of Munchkin Land, but you have to go in and see the wizard on your own,” Colella said.

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