Preparing for a Brighter Future
November 8, 2016
We’ve all been there, starting out in the “real world” trying to figure out who we are and what we want to do for a living. The journey isn’t easy, success is never guaranteed, and for those who perceivably have the odds stacked against them, certain career paths may appear out of reach.
When FleishmanHillard in New York was tasked with interpreting the theme of social inclusion for our 70th anniversary #FH4Inclusion initiative, we felt that as New Yorkers that theme could only mean one thing: opportunity. Opportunity to overcome obstacles. Opportunity to chase dreams. Opportunity to excel despite difficult personal or financial circumstances.
We decided to partner with Covenant House, one of the US’s longest-standing shelters for homeless youth. The organization provides residents with basic living needs while also helping them prepare for the transition to independence and self-sufficiency. To support their mission, we hosted 17 young adults at the New York office for a day of career guidance. With the help of dozens of FHers, we led a series of workshops to introduce them to the world of public relations and recommend how they could become stronger job applicants.
The day started with a breakfast “meet and greet,” followed by a discussion led by various practice groups. Representatives from each group provided an overview of their work and some of the fun, topical campaigns that FH has worked on recently.
After breaking for lunch, we focused on the personal and professional growth of the teens through interactive presentations led by Talent Development. Many of the Covenant House members had never had a job or been on an interview, so they were apprehensive about where to start. We helped them begin the process with a step-by-step resume tutorial and cover letter overview, as well as how they can look for job openings and how to apply. They were introduced to LinkedIn, shown how to build a profile and had professional headshots taken for their pages.
To engage the group in a real-world example, our team members guided the teens through a typical Q&A session, assisting them with appropriate responses along the way. Many of the attendees were intimidated by their lack of work experience, but were relieved to hear that the skills they’ve developed during their time at Covenant House could actually be applied to positions in the workforce. It was a special moment when we saw the relief on their faces as they realized they weren’t as inexperienced as they previously thought.
As the day came to a close, FHers worked with the teens in small groups to discuss personal branding and storytelling. Group leaders shared their journeys and conveyed how all of their experiences – good or bad – played a part in getting them to where they are today. Each adolescent was coached on how to articulate their individual narrative and shown how their distinctive perspective could be valuable to a prospective employer.
They were reminded that all companies – big or small – are simply comprised of individuals. Individuals with a story to tell and that it’s the differences within those stories that make companies unique.
Each attendee left our office with an interview kit and takeaways filled with helpful tips to further assist them with their job searches. We were delighted to hear that many of the guests expressed interest in a profession within public relations after learning about FH. In addition, they stated that the corporate world seemed less daunting once they realized that our company was made up of a diverse group of people from varied backgrounds and experiences who have embarked on similar journeys into the real world.
FH New York truly connected with the Covenant House youth and we were so grateful to share in such a memorable and inspirational day with them. We plan to continue our connection with the organization through various volunteer opportunities in the near future. To learn more about the Covenant House and to get involved at a location near you, visit www.covenanthouse.org.