WARSAW — Warsaw native Mitchell Fiandt knows firsthand how the Goodwill Career Center can help change lives. While Fiandt now serves as the manager of the Warsaw job placement office, several years ago he was sitting on the other side of the desk, seeking assistance from the organization in finding local employment.
A 2011 graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington, Fiandt returned to his hometown with a bachelor’s degree in English and a desire to start his career.
For the first few years after his return to Warsaw, Fiandt spent time working in various temporary and part-time positions, including everything from waiting tables to working at Biomet, opportunities he described as being good experiences but not necessarily good jobs.
Through his visits to the Career Center as one of its clients, Fiandt developed a working relationship with Kelly Friend, who at that time worked in the position he now holds. On one of his visits to the office, Friend told him she was being promoted within the organization. Fiandt took advantage of the opportunity and applied for the newly opened position and, as they say, the rest became history.
Fiandt assumed his position in May 2016. As the office’s only full-time staff member, he oversees three part-time employees. In his role, Fiandt’s general objective is helping area job seekers find meaningful and gainful employment with local companies. In some instances, the positions are temporary jobs, sometimes turning into permanent positions. Other times, the connections he makes for clients are part-time positions that become stepping stones to other opportunities.
There are many avenues Fiandt takes to making employment connections for his clients. Goodwill regularly holds job fairs to put potential workers in front of area employers. Fiandt also works with the human resources offices of local companies to match their openings with those seeking jobs. He helps to arrange interviews for his clients with the hope of inducing a successful match. One of his responsibilities is developing resumés for job seekers in an effort to more professionalize their search and improve their chances in landing employment.
Fiandt has many other tools at his disposal to help clients become successful participants in the workforce. The Career Center offers various workshops and training sessions to assist clients improve their skills with computers, interviews, applications and other challenges which often are barriers to getting hired.
“Some of the people who come in here need help with the very basics on how to use a computer,” said Fiandt. “We have eight computers that our clients can come in and use and receive training on how to operate them.”
Goodwill Industries of Michiana also operates Career Centers in Elkhart, Mishawaka, South Bend and Griffith. They soon plan to add a location in Gary. Fiandt acknowledged the job opportunities and clientele in the Warsaw office are often considerably different than in the other cities. In fact, he has seen a notable drop off in foot traffic in recent months thanks to an improved local economy in Kosciusko County. He added 88 cents of every dollar from the adjacent retail store goes to workforce development.
Fiandt also works closely with other non-profit and social services organizations in the area. He is part of a monthly meeting at the K21 Foundation to share thoughts, ideas and resources with other community leaders.
Fiandt has been married for eight years to Nick Spangle, who serves as the campus coordinator at Ivy Tech in Warsaw. In his free time, he enjoys reading and writing, including working on a novel, and hanging out with their cat, Doozie.