Voices From the Lab: Retiree Learns Tech Skills for Job Search

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Photo of Noe Quantanilla

Noe Quantanilla

 Two years after retiring as a Janitor for the Del Valle School District, Noe Quintanilla, realized that he needed to find a part-time job to help supplement his income. When he went back to the school district to apply for a part-time job, he faced a challenge that many of Austin Free-Net’s clients encounter every day….paper applications are no longer accepted!

Applicants, including former employees, may only apply online for open positions.  Considering that Noe did not have computer skills or a home computer, let alone access to the Internet, this became an obstacle in helping him find employment in his chosen field.

Fortunately, a solution to Noe’s lack of computer skills presented itself when he was out doing an errand for his wife.  He went to Rosewood Zaragosa Neighborhood Center to pay a utility bill and saw a flyer for Austin Free-Net’s bilingual computer classes held at The DeWitty Center.

“I don’t usually do the household errands, so this was good luck for me,” laughed Noe.

Photo of green computer mouse

Computer mouse

Determined to become computer literate, Noe came to The DeWitty Center and signed up for the free Spanish Language Computer Basic Class.  He wanted to learn how to fill out online job applications and send emails to his daughter who lives in Florida.

Noe also was motivated by the promise his daughter made. She told him that if he learned how to use a computer, she would buy him one in the future!  In an era when children are introduced to technology at an early age, they often become the impetus for parents and grandparents to learn more about new technology.  Seniors like Noe have heard about Facebook from their adult children or grandchildren and they want to be a part of it.

Working with Bilingual Program Trainer, Mercedes, Noe began learning how to use a mouse and keyboard. He progressed to searching on the Internet, opening an email account and learning how to fill out online forms.

 “At first he was hesitant about using the computer and sometimes seemed frustrated,”said Mercedes. “But, he was also eager to learn and try to work independently.” Noe proudly told Mercedes “I did it!!” when he completed a sample online application by himself.

A year later, Noe is still looking for a school district position, but he says he is not worried.  “Coming to The DeWitty Center and working on my computer skills is my job. I can always find little fill-in jobs.  I will be ready when the school hires again for the next school year.” According to Pew Research Studies, only 54 percent of Americans over age 65 have access to the Internet. Among those 77 and older, the proportion drops to about a third. When seniors succeed in taming technology, it can make an enormous difference in their lives.

In addition to free basic computer classes for senior Spanish speakers, Austin Free-Net also offers adults over 18 years old classes in resume writing, online job search assistance, as well as instruction on how to create a free email account and use social media.

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