Nu Beginnings—Helping job seekers became an inspiration for a small company

Jacob2In 1992, Odie Smith experienced his first layoff from his job at a St. Louis aerospace company. He ended up being out of work for three months.

During this time, Odie discovered firsthand how hard being unemployed is. He had to learn how to file for benefits, and his credit took a beating when he suddenly couldn’t pay his debts. He had to practice the skills associated with resume writing and interviewing.

Without today’s internet, Odie says the answers weren’t always easy to find. So, he took notes along the way.

“I began writing a journal of my unemployment experiences, so that if I received another layoff notice again, I would know what to do and where to go for assistance,” he says.

Shortly after Odie was called back in to work, he noticed that some of his coworkers and friends were being laid off. Odie decided to use his journal and his recent experience to help counsel his friends during their layoffs. Working with others, he found that in unemployment, no two situations are alike.

“All of them had a different hardship,” Odie says. “After accompanying so many friends and coworkers, I had a collection of helpful tips.”

He also discovered he had a passion and a natural talent for helping people deal with the trials of unemployment. He developed booklets and brochures to give to people who were struggling to find jobs.

Over the years, Odie’s services to others gradually expanded. Then, in 2011, it became a business when Odie and his wife, Daval Smith, established Nu Beginnings Employment Organizers. In 2012, he began to devote even more time to the company, after he lost his full time job again.

Today, Nu Beginnings offers a range of services for people looking for jobs. The services are priced to be affordable for people facing suddenly stretched budgets. For $25, the company will help with a cover letter. Resume services are $50. Nu Beginnings also offers classes, seminars, and published materials.

Odie says Nu Beginnings helps about 250 people a year. Three interns and four volunteers assist in the effort.

He has a vision to expand Nu Beginnings. However, his unemployment experiences have damaged his personal credit. Banks have turned down his loan requests.

“I cashed in most of my 401k in order to have the start-up capital needed to open and run the business,” he says.

Despite the difficulties he’s faced, Odie remains determined to use his experiences to help others and create a successful business in the process.

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