Alumni Spotlight: Antoinette from Penn Medicine

In October 2020 Antoinette Moore, like many others, was without a job during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was doing prenatal health, working in the community. Then a bunch of us were let go, and I was doing odds and end jobs but nothing was really sticking. At that time I was really unemployed, and no one was really hiring because of COVID,” Antoinette shared. “Then I was checking my email and I saw that WPSI was recruiting for the Lab Assistant Program with Penn Medicine, but I only had one day to apply before the deadline!” 


As the world scrambled to orient itself during the unprecedented event, it was increasingly clear to Penn Medicine that keeping West Philadelphia as safe as possible meant quickly establishing multiple COVID-19 testing sites. The longstanding history of collaboration between Penn Medicine and the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) supported a rapid custom recruitment and program design period, resulting in a recruitment launch date of October 23rd, 2020.  


Antoinette was accepted into the first of three cohorts, successfully navigating the virtual learning environment and even finding friendship through the screen. “We wasn’t being social at that time. Only so many people could go in stores. So then logging in online, it kind of made us more social even though we were virtual. It gave us some kind of social connection… I still keep in contact with a few of them.”  


Antoinette started at Penn Medicine with 50 newly minted lab assistants from the WPSI program and was one of the last employees as the sites began to close in 2023 due to dwindling demand. The network that Antoinette built would prove to be the source of her next big career moment. “I had heard that there was a leadership development program at Penn [Medicine], and then someone from my cohort who was working in the lab forwarded me the email about it. We applied right before the deadline. I don’t know what the luck of the draw is with that next-day deadline, but we got in!”  


The leadership program that Antoinette applied to happened to be the newest development in WPSI’s relationship with Penn Medicine—an incumbent worker training program called Pathway 2 Promotion. “Compared to how it was in the beginning with WPSI, the Pathway program was like a step up. It was like, ‘Ok, now you’re in and know what the expectations are working with Penn, but here is where we really sharpen this pencil up,’” she shared. 


“Towards the end of the program, I was still applying and interviewing but there was one role that two of the program coaches saw and thought would be a good fit—and it was actually still in the lab! I’d still be in the same department. It’s a lead position. And now it’s my new role.”  


Antoinette’s experience shows the power of working hard, networking, and keeping open to new opportunities. We can’t wait to share what she does next!