By: Panchami Bhat
Standing in the room at the Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ Neighborhood Fair at Larkin Street Youth Services, one could feel the excitement and eagerness of attendees which included youth looking for jobs and San Francisco employers looking to hire.
Youth walked from one employer to another, enthusiastically filling out applications and talking about their professional goals. Employers smiled brightly as youth approached their tables, happy to discuss available positions.
San Francisco District Six Supervisor Jane Kim emphasized the value of connecting youth to jobs for the benefit of the community. “This is such an important experience for making sure that we’re building the long-term livelihood of our neighborhoods across San Francisco. We all want you to not just grow up in San Francisco, we want you to make this your home and raise your families here. There is no neighborhood that is as generous, as compassionate, and as united as the neighborhood we are in. It is one that works together to ensure we are pulling everyone up.”
Since 2012, Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ has helped more than 34,000 youth ages 16-24 find summer employment. The job fair is one way that the program has been influential in providing youth with valuable early employment experiences.
With dreams of working in coding and web development, Jude attended the job fair hoping to find connections to build a pathway to an internship.
Andrea, standing nearby, jumped in excitedly and states that she loved that the fair offered the opportunity to meet with employers face-to-face. “I’m excited to see so many employers all in one place. You can meet the employers, they can see your face, and see your resume before you even apply for the job.”
Robert was glad he got the chance to be a part of the fair to get his foot in the door. The most valuable connection he made was with UPS for a supervisor position. “They said I was a great candidate and that I just need to take a placement test.” He’s confident he’ll do well on the test, and succeed in the position. “There are a lot of opportunities available here, and I don’t want anybody to miss out on them,” he mentioned, happy to recommend the resource to his friends.
“The fair was a wonderful opportunity, with a lot of new doors opening for me,” Arriyahn stated, excited by the sheer volume of connections she made through the event. She received offers with Starbucks, Applebees, and YMCA, and mentioned she would “one hundred percent” recommend the fair to her friends.
Deja was extremely motivated to find work, and heard that people who’ve attended the fair in the past had been successful in finding a job. She shared how thankful she was for the fair, “The process of finding a job is hard, especially with the economy we’re in today. It’s amazing that there are places like this and events like this that can help you.”
When asked what she hoped to gain from the job fair, she thoughtfully replied that she hoped to find new connections and develop her communication skills, to “get into the groove of meeting with new employers and learn how to talk to them.” It was heartening to hear that her enthusiasm paid off, as she landed an interview with Starbucks.
Hayward Cook of UPS believes that hiring youth is important as “they’re going to set the foundation and lead the way for the future. If you don’t hire youth they’re not going to learn and establish the skills needed for the workforce.” He felt inspired by the youth who attended, and found their drive and willingness to work refreshing. “You see people who get disheartened because they’ve been trying to find work. For youth to continue to still have the enthusiasm to find a job is really encouraging.”
Allied Universal has partnered with the Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ fair since its inception, and has found it successful in finding great new hires every year. Their representative, Mountain, was eager to share they completed three on the spot hires that day. He offered this advice to young people searching for jobs today, “There’s a reason they call it work. Understand that where you start isn’t where you end up. Oftentimes just getting your foot in the door with an organization or starting off to learn something gives you valuable insight into your next job.” He continued thoughtfully, “Don’t shun any experience that you’re going to get, because all experience is only going to make you better.”
Starbucks representative, Cassandra Piper, loved getting the chance to hear the stories and feel the energy of youth in attendance. A noteworthy moment for her was the very first person she connected with at the fair. “She had such great eye contact and she was so excited to talk. Sometimes when you’re interviewing people it can be tough to get answers out of them, but she kept going and had a lot to say.”
“It can be easy in a city like this to get lost. It can be tough for kids to figure out first steps, so providing those first steps for them is really cool and valuable.”
With a smile, she specified why she believed hiring youth was important. “Youth need to start somewhere. It’s great when they can get an early start in the job market, even if it’s not going to be a long-term career. From that first job experience, there’s always going to be something they can carry with them into the future.”
The energy, excitement, and drive that the youth exhibited was certainly inspiring.
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