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Tribune Society hosts career development workshop for court employees

September 26, 2019 Rob Abruzzese
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Jobs in the New York State court system have competitive salaries, pensions and good benefits, but that doesn’t mean that employees aren’t constantly looking to better their careers. One of the best benefits is upward mobility, as it is common for employees to start as interpreters or court officers and become clerks, court attorneys and even judges.

Last Saturday, 50 court employees who are looking to move up the chain of command attended a career development workshop that was hosted by the Tribune Society of the Courts in the State of New York, and got advice from judges and other court employees on how they can distinguish themselves and improve their careers.

The workshop, which is now in its fourth year, was coordinated by Chairpersons Leah Richardson, the Tribune Society’s president, and Betty Matondo-John.

Justice Deborah Dowling opened the event, which took place at 100 Centre Street in Manhattan, by discussing career development and the program’s mission to provide tools to help court employees to qualify for the jobs they seek.

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Mock interviews were conducted by panels of five court system managers. These managers, who are in charge of hiring in their departments, demonstrated examples of good and bad interviewing techniques. Afterward, panelists participated in a question-and-answer session and shared further insights into their own hiring processes.

Tamara Kersh, chief clerk of the Queens Supreme Court, Civil Term, and Tony Walters, director of Workforce Diversity for the Office of Court Administration, discussed the nuts and bolts of the interview process including test preparation, interviewing techniques, promotional paths within the court and strategies to obtain appointed positions.

Part of what they, and other presenters, discussed was the importance of networking and branding. Walters explained that each individual is a “walking billboard” and stressed how important it is to maintain your professional reputation and work ethic.

“Your reputation follows you within the court system and your reputation can be a critical measure of your potential upward mobility,” he said.

Deputy Chief Clerk Serena Springle shared similar advice and explained that employees need to handle themselves in a manner to gain respect not just from their potential bosses during interviews, but from their potential colleagues as well.

Flora Quick, the founder and managing director of Quick Resume Career Services, was also on hand to give a comprehensive presentation on resume-writing and strategies. She explained that employees need to focus on their natural strengths and improve their weaknesses. Each of the 50 participants was able to submit an application to her for her to critique.

The program wrapped up with a “Pathways to Success” panel that featured many of the judges in attendance. They discussed their own career paths and talked about the importance of mentors and how to find them.

“After the workshops, court employees were given the opportunity to have one-on-one consultations with judges, court attorneys and chief clerks where their cover letters, resumes and writing samples were reviewed,” Judge Joanne Quinones explained. “The attendees that I met with seemed to be really grateful for that opportunity. I gave them my business card and plan to meet with them again once they’ve updated their resumes and incorporated some of the edits we came up with together. It was a really great experience.”

Other panelists at the event included Charles Small, chief clerk of the Brooklyn Supreme Court, Civil Term; Betty Campbell, commissioner of jurors, Westchester County; Joyce Hartsfield, executive director, Franklin H. Williams Commission; Alia Razzaq, chief clerk, New York County Civil Court; Hon. Michelle Weston, Supreme Court justice, Kings County, Civil Term; Hon. Reginald Boddie, Supreme Court justice, Kings County, Civil Term; and Hon. Wavny Toussaint, Supreme Court justice, Kings County, Civil Term.

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