Today’s blog is about my first time working with children. I must say hats off to all you educators. I am not sure how and why you do it, but hats off to you.
I was asked by a friend who is running a mentoring program for inner city kids to come in and provide a few interviewing techniques, you know the dos and don’ts of interviewing. I initially thought, “This is a great idea, gives me an opportunity to give back to the community.” Boy was I wrong.
First, I wanted to keep things simple not to elaborate, no agenda just a simple discussion. We started out with me introducing myself, and asking the group to do the same, while informing me what school s/he attended, bad idea. One group in particular, was goofing off, providing false names, informing me they were in elementary school; mind you I am speaking to a group of high school kids, they are laughing, slouching et cetera et cetera.
Next, we move into the ice breaker exercise, the “Find someone who…” again this was all wrong, no one participated, and the teens simply laughed and again goofed off. I couldn’t help but think; didn’t these kids’ parents teach them to be respectful while out in public, not to mention to adults?
Now here is the presentation, I begin to explain the purpose of the “Find someone who…” exercise there is chatter, outright blatant disrespect. I do what any other trainer would do when a trainee is talking; you walk over and stand next to the person who is chattering. Would you believe this did not work? They were actually worst.
I had to keep reminding myself these are children, inner city children. Did I want to label and/or stereotype them? Absolutely not, but they had proved all my other friends right. When I told friends I was doing this, I got responses such as, “Are you kidding me?” “I wouldn’t, those kids are rude” and “You can’t teach them anything” and yet I found myself thinking and feeling the same way as my friends.
Before I knew it, my wanting to help went to frustration and then P.O.’d. Here I am providing a service that I normally charge for, for free, not to mention the paper I used to print PowerPoints, and little giveaways I had purchased. Our discussion quickly turned from “ Hi my name is X and I am here to discuss the dos and don’ts of interviewing to listen, if you do not want to be here, by all means please feel free to leave. You are a distraction, not only me but to those who are very much interested. Furthermore, you should be mindful of your behavior, you never know if the person you are rude to, disrespectful to will be the one determining if you get your next job.” I explained (to those who were actually listening) that unfortunately, the teen unemployment rate went up in January to 20.7% — from 20.2% in December– and is now more than three times the national unemployment rate of 6.6%, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). So if you plan on working to save money for college, it just got harder. Not to mention for some of you here today I absolutely would never hire. I felt bad, but it was the truth.
In the end, will I do it again? Yes, if I reach one kid out of 50 then I’ve done my job.