America’s recession over the past 5 years has affected younger workers at a much higher rate than older workers. While national unemployment stands at 7.5%, the unemployment rate for youth ages 16-19 is 22.5% and 12.5% for young adults ages 20-24. There are many opinions on what the long term effect of such numbers will be, but suffice it to say, while these young people aren’t in work they are missing opportunities for career readiness. Enterprise for High School Students (EHSS), however, is fighting against those missed opportunities.
Founded in 1969, EHSS is a non-profit that engages and empowers Bay area youth with job readiness programs offered throughout the year. To date, they’ve helped more than 20,000 San Francisco youth learn critical job skills and get crucial hands on experience through job bank partnerships. EHSS works to give students all the tools and information to get that first job and be successful at it.
I sat down with Megan Cabral who works on the Pathways Program and learned that the before and after difference for students who are members of EHSS is a huge boost in confidence. “What we mean when we say we empower youth,” Megan told me, “is that we help them discover their potential and existing skills and really own them.
Growing up it can be hard to define yourself because on one hand you have to be professional, but there’s definitely a want to have your own flare. Doing our work most successfully is when we make our members believe in themselves. Students that complete our program don’t give up easily. Even if they get turned down from a job, they keep applying because they’ve fostered that belief in themselves.”
A Community Win-Win
The job bank that EHSS created provides huge benefits for both the business and the student. With unemployment rate for youth being what it is, a teen that has job experience when applying to schools or future jobs stands out from those who don’t have prior experience. For private or corporate businesses, being able to hire a teen affords them useful assistance without as high of a cost.
“The job bank also gives everything we teach the students a whole new meaning for them,” Megan said. “When students start out with one of our programs, often times they don’t think to give their number twice when leaving a voicemail, to slow down and annunciate, and to be more formal in email language. But, I see huge shifts in the students throughout the course.”
Each time a student speaks to an employer, no matter if it is for a babysitting job or for a position at The GAP, they have the opportunity to practice the skills that the programs teach. “The other day a student was at our office and I heard him at the end of leaving a voicemail and, as he was about to hang up, he brought the phone back to his ear and said, ‘Once again this is…and my number is’. That’s the sort of behavior changes that I get so stoked to see.”
Communication plays a huge role in career development, but it can be a nerve racking skill to develop. Networking nights often make palms sweat as people anxiously decide on small talk to make or not make. For teens who haven’t navigated the business world before, it’s an even bigger lesson on taking initiative and knowing what’s appropriate.
“After going through EHSS programs, our members are much more likely to say hello and start a conversation, introduce themselves to new people, and reach out to employers without any kind of hesitation,” Megan said. And it isn’t that EHSS is teaching the students not to fear rejection. The members don’t get every job they go after, but the difference is they take it less personally because they’ve developed that confidence in their potential.
One of the biggest struggles for teens is over their image and how they appear to a third party. Job readiness programs work on getting a lot of the unknowns out of the way. In the Pathways Program going through one-on-one mock interviews help each student understand what an interviewer expects. This helps the students relax during the real deal because they won’t be second guessing the behavior they put on.
Using Online Scheduling for EHSS
“TimeTap helps me to remove a certain margin of error in our work,” Megan told me, mentioning what a relief it has been to give the white-out a rest from trying to handle appointments physically. “It also helps give our members greater responsibility. The ownership to get the mock interview set up is in their hands now.”
The logistical headache from managing 100 students, getting them set up for mock interviews, arranging portfolio reviews, and having to compare all those schedules isn’t too hard to imagine. “A solution like yours helps make a really overwhelming task much easier. Really, I can’t tell you how much time it saves me.”
EHSS has been a TimeTap user since February 2012