Success Story: Erich Romain, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

When I first heard of Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS), I was close to completing my bachelor’s degree in computer science at Kean University. As graduation day approached, I started proactively applying to jobs online, which is when I came across a software test analyst role WOS had posted on Craigslist. The job description intrigued me; as a kid, I tinkered with the built-in applications on the family computer and attempted to fix errors when they occurred, which sparked my passion for technology and problem-solving. My interest in the role grew when I discovered the employer was Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (HBCBSNJ), my mother’s insurance provider; I was eager to see how the company operated behind the scenes. After I applied, I was invited to interview for the WOS On-Demand program in December 2016, the same time that I graduated from school.

Unfortunately, after a grueling monthlong interview process with WOS and HBCBSNJ, I was not selected for the role. I continued to work full-time at a major office-supply company, where I had worked as a technology associate since 2014, troubleshooting customers’ personal computers and offering tech support. Thankfully, a month or two after the first round of interviews ended, WOS contacted me about an opening for a different role as a User Acceptance Testing Analyst at HBCBSNJ, and I interviewed a second time. Experiencing this stressful process twice seemed well worth it once the company hired me in May 2017.

The orientation process was intense. I went through rigorous company training and had to quickly absorb important information about HBCBSNJ: its software development life cycle, how the company does its testing from a user perspective, and the various technologies necessary for the job. I learned about health care, which was difficult because my university classes didn’t teach me about the ins and outs of the industry or the terminology. Throughout everything, my WOS Client Service Manager (CSM), Valerie Echols, was an invaluable source of guidance, providing me with information on HBCBSNJ’s work compliance, dress policy, and corporate culture.

And the support I received from WOS didn’t end there; the organization has provided me with unparalleled financial assistance, including $125 a month for tuition assistance and a transit debit card that I can load before taxes. I’m so grateful to have received this support as I transitioned into my first corporate role in an unfamiliar industry. I know I would not have had such a seamless experience if I had gone through the onboarding process on my own.

Now, at age 24, I’ve been at HBCBSNJ for about a year and a half, and I couldn’t ask for a better work environment or coworkers. The leadership and team at Horizon are helping me pave a pathway to success, and I don’t believe I would have received such a strong foundation anywhere else. I’ve gained confidence in my ability to complete complex tasks and am pleased by the growth of my communications, leadership and analytical skills. WOS has aligned me with a professional role that generates unlimited opportunities for growth and development as I progress in my career.