People kept showing up at her employment agency with little or no idea how to find a job, says Vicki Satern of Association Personnel. "We had to do something."

For a receptionist's opening, "We would interview 40 or 50 women. They didn't know what they were doing. They would park the car outside and run in in a disco outfit."

After months of effort, she recently obtained an $84,000 grant through the D.C. Private Industry Council to set up a series of two-week courses aimed at training low-income residents in office machine skills and basic job-hunting techniques.

Vacancies still remain for this series of courses, and she anticipates having the program refunded later this year. There is no charge.

Applicants must meet CETA (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) income eligibility requirements. Additionally, they must be at least 18, be D.C. residents and type 25 words per minute.

As Satern explains it, she runs a no-nonsense school. "We're trying to simulate an office setting." Students "have to observe office etiquette," which includes dressing properly for the business world and showing up on time for the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. sessions.