Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Working up the Employment Totem Poll

Someone asked me recently why our kids are so excited to apply to NYC’s Summer Youth Employment Program, even though they have only a slim chance of getting placed in a job. Frankly, the prospect of earning money and being able to shop excites them!

We’re making the process of applying for the jobs challenging. Sometimes in the past, because we wanted the kids to succeed so badly, I think we did too much for them. Example: the kids need to fill out application forms for the employment program. Formerly we would have downloaded and printed out the forms for them. Instead, this year we told the students that they need to find the forms on line, and print and fill them out on their own. We also made our mock interviews tough by purposely having the interviewers (teachers), be abrupt or even curt with the students. The kids have to learn how to behave professionally even when confronted with someone who is impolite. Easier said than done, right?

Then, we also tossed out the idea that, if they do land a summer job, it may involve doing sanitation or other unappealing work. They immediately said “No way, I won’t do that!” The students already have an idea of where they want to stand on the employment “totem poll”. But we drove home the point that they have to start somewhere and work their way up.

My fingers are crossed that at least one student will land a job, and be a role model for the rest.

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