Navigate Work and Employment

 Looking for work or to change jobs? Maybe you want to learn a trade. Perhaps you just want to polish your résumé and interviewing skills. Whether you are entering the workforce for the first time, establishing yourself in a new community, or reentering the workforce after an absence, there are many tools available to help you enhance your skills and navigate the job market.

If you have been unable to find work that covers your family’s basic needs, or have been deprived of wages you are due, there is help for you. Know your rights as an employee. Check if you are eligible for tax preparation assistance.

If you seek to improve your current skills for a promotion or new opportunity, Calbright College offers free career training for California residents. Your local community college can also help with education and career searches. For those pursuing an occupational or technical program, California’s Cal Grant C program provides free money to eligible students.

Other ways to enter the workforce include apprenticeships and internships. Your local community college or employment center can help find a good fit for you.


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 Key Terms

Apprenticeship: Type of job where the employee receives training as they work under the direction of a senior worker.

Benefit: Something that an employer, the government, or an insurance company provides that’s often used only for a particular purpose, such as food or medical costs. Also: An advantage; something that is good.

Federal income tax: The federal government collects taxes based on the earnings of individuals and businesses, called an income tax. The federal income tax pays for national programs such as defense, foreign affairs, law enforcement, and interest on the national debt.

Federal minimum wage: The lowest national wage as established by law in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Fellowship: Short-term opportunities that last from a few months to several years and focus on the professional development of the fellow. They are typically sponsored by a specific organization seeking to expand leadership in their field.

FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act): A tax deducted from your pay to contribute to Social Security and Medicare; your employer contributes the same amount on your behalf.

Form W-4: A form that the employee completes and the employer uses to determine the amount of income tax to withhold.

Gig work: A single project or task for which a worker is hired to work on demand. Some gigs are a type of short-term job, and some workers pursue gigs as a self-employment option.

Gross income: Total pay before taxes and other deductions are taken out.

Income tax credit: A credit on your taxes that reduces the amount of tax you owe.

Internship: A form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships can be paid or unpaid.

Net income: Amount of money you bring home in your paycheck after taxes and other deductions are taken out; also called take-home pay.

Income tax: Federal, state, and local taxes on income, both earned (salaries, wages, tips, commissions) and unearned (interest, dividends). This includes both personal, and business or corporate income taxes. California has a state income tax, but not all states and localities have income taxes.

Taxes: Required payments of money to governments, which use the funds to provide public goods and services for the benefit of the community as a whole.

Training: Programs aimed at boosting workers' employability and earnings. Training can take place on-the-job or in an educational environment.

Vocational: A type of postsecondary education that trains students for a specific line of work, such as health care or automotive.