Providing Options In Relocation Process

Posted: May 11, 1987

Options Inc., a Philadelphia career-counseling service, has been selected to provide job-hunting assistance to spouses of Eastman Kodak Co. employees who will be transferred to the area to work for the company's new pharmaceutical division.

David M. Rapp of Kodak's corporate personnel-relocation department said the company decided to offer the service because several employees who have been relocated in the past said they would have benefited from such assistance.

Options has been helping spouses of workers who have moved to the Philadelphia area since the nonprofit organization opened in 1970. But the Kodak contract marks the first time Options has been hired by a company to provide services to a group of employees.

Since receiving the Kodak contract, Vicki Kramer, co-director of Options, said she has been contacted by several companies that are interested in similar services.

Kramer and Marcia Kleiman decided to form the nonprofit organization after re-evaluating their own careers several years ago.

Kleiman, who holds a doctorate in adult education, had been a school teacher and counselor. Kramer was a professor of English, who had worked at Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges.

But Kramer said that after several years as a professor, "I was not sure I had made the right choice."

The pair decided to form their career-consulting company because they were interested in trying to help women who were entering the working world and trying to fulfill their family responsibilities at the same time, Kramer said.

"We started it really to help women take advantage of their expanding opportunities at the time and to help women become economically self- sufficient," she said.

Because of its focus on working women, the organization initially was called Options for Women.

Kramer and Kleiman established the company as a nonprofit organization

because it allows them to receive outside funding from a consortium of women's groups known as Women's Way. The outside funding allows the group to discount some services based on a person's ability to pay.

But almost from the beginning, Kramer and Kleiman found that they were being asked to provide services outside of their original mission.

Today, the firm provides job-hunting assistance for men and women, as well as career planning and help for people who have been fired or laid off.

The assistance is mostly geared to helping people determine what kind of job they're looking for and locating job openings that meet their goals. Options counselors provide help with everything from sharpening interviewing skills to preparing a resume.

Helping spouses of relocated employees accounts for slightly less than 10 percent of Options' business, Kramer said.

In recognition the changing nature of their work, Kramer and Kleiman decided to shorten the group's name to Options.

Kodak has said that about 100 employees will be moving from offices in Rochester, N.Y., to the Great Valley Corporate Center in Malvern. To facilitate the move, the company contracted with Career Development Services, a nonprofit company based in Rochester, to provide initial counseling services to the spouses who will be uprooted. Options will provide more in-depth counseling as the employees and their spouses get closer to moving.

Kramer said one specialty of Options has been helping people cope with the strains that careers can place on their home life. They recognize that people who have been forced to move because of a spouse's career can be under particular strain.

"The emotional experiences they have are very similar to the experiences of people going through a layoff or a termination because they haven't chosen to do this," Kramer said.

Options tries to help spouses discover what they want to do and find contacts in the Philadelphia area that might be of assistance.

"We get them to learn about this area as quickly as possible," Kramer said. "They still have to do the job hunt, but we try to give them the tools."

The firm's contract with Kodak is scheduled to last for one year and will be open to all spouses whether they are currently working or not.

"Kodak has made it very flexible because people do have different needs," Kramer said.

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