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Job Prep Training Program prepares Massachusetts youth for future

November 11, 2011

Many corporate professionals recently volunteered their time and experience at Youth Villages’ Job Prep Training Program.

Michele Freadman wasn’t sure what to expect. She’d given her career presentation, a road map to success, many times before, but she hadn’t presented to this group. She’d mentored many college students at Northeastern University interested in pursuing a career similar to hers, but she hadn’t mentored Carlos.

“Michele is my career coach,” Carlos said (above). “She’s introduced me to her contacts, showed me restaurants and other places in Boston, and helped me be more confident.”

Freadman, deputy director for corporate security at the Massachusetts Port Authority, was one of many area executives who participated in Youth Villages’ four-week job prep training program for youth in the transitional living program.

The goal of the job prep training program is to better prepare former foster youth to find, secure and maintain employment. The sad reality for many of these young adults is that they often end up unemployed, homeless or incarcerated because they lack sufficient support in the crucial early adult years. Through the program, professionals from the corporate world volunteer as trainers and are matched as career coaches to young adults enrolled in the TL program. The course covers such topics as the job application process, resume writing, interviewing skills and how to follow up with potential employers. Volunteers facilitate the trainings, provide one-on-one support during course activities and agree to support the young adults after the program.

“Some things I already knew, but it did help a lot with refining things for me and getting opinions from others in the workforce,” Carlos said. “Michele is a great coach; she’s trying to help me out.”

Carlos, an aspiring chef, didn’t give Michele a good initial feeling about their relationship.

“At first, it didn’t look like we’d be a good match,” Michele said. “Carlos seemed neutral. It seemed as if he wasn’t really engaged in the program or me.”

Michele even told Carlos he could trade her for another career coach if he wanted. Good for both that he didn’t. Instead, they found common bonds in a love for the Celtics and family.

“I eventually was able to see a deeper side of him,” Michele said. “I saw a person I respected.”

Most of the youth participating in the job prep training program have never been exposed to successful business professionals, let alone had the opportunity to receive one-on-one support from them. This program provides young adults access to a network of professionals who are committed to their success and willing to help them improve their skills.

“Michele is my career coach,” Carlos said. “She’s introduced me to her contacts, showed me restaurants and other places in Boston, and helped me be more confident.”

Carlos regularly speaks with Michele about job postings. They research the postings together and evaluate each job description to prepare for upcoming interviews. Since completing the training program, Carlos secured a second job at a new bistro that is due to open soon. He’s even talking about going to culinary school.

“It’s important how people perceive me,” Carlos said. “I appreciate the environment I grew up in, but my old life isn’t an option.”

“Carlos said it was important to remember and reflect, but he wants something more,” Michele said. “He’s a gem – you have to scratch the surface, then he really shines. He’s extremely motivated and has a bright future.”

Michele is glad she volunteered.

“Seeing these participants have hope and realize that people care is inspirational,” she said. “Helping them achieve fulfillment puts my life into perspective.”

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