On Tuesday, April 17th, DonCARES of Philadelphia President Donovan Forrest in conjunction with Gear-Up of Temple University conducted a resume writing and interview workshop at Kensington High School in North Philadelphia. Kensington High School is located in a section of North Philadelphia that is largely known for its high rates of opioid addictions and homeless populations. Despite this stigma, Forrest arrived at the high school excited to learn as well as pour his experience as both employee and recruiter to very deserving ninth graders.
"Every time I enter a high school I'm nervous. I don't know what to expect, it's a rush of adrenaline I experience every time I walk through the metal detectors. For whatever limited time I am there, I am obligated to make a positive difference." Forrest reflects on his visits to schools throughout North Philadelphia.
In late March 2018, Gear-Up Temple University Participants Briayanna Johnson and Brianna Morales reached out to Forrest to conduct a resume workshop at Kensington High School. At the time, DonCARES of Philadelphia, SMOOTH Inc. and the National Council of Negro Women Temple Section had recently held a career readiness workshop at the U School.
The career readiness workshop that Forrest suggested would contain three parts: A professional dress code demonstration for young men and women, an interview workshop where the facilitator walks through the characteristics of a successful interview, and the resume building piece.
Briayanna Johnson a Sophomore at Temple University demonstrated proper dress code for young women. "A dark-colored blazer and pants are fine," Johnson told the ninth grade students. As college students, Forrest, Johnson, and Morales understand if youth can't afford suits. However, it is important for students to see what proper interview attire looks like. "You want to dress for the job you want." Forrest explains. When Forrest asked if any students ever held a job, two out of fifteen students raised their hands which is why the work all three college students commit themselves to in North Philadelphia is critical.
Brianna Morales, a Gear-Up Coach for high school students and a 2016 graduate from Central High School was enthused by the level of interest the ninth grade students showed in starting their resume.
"Donovan Forrest came out to Kensington for a Resume and Career Building Workshop in collaboration with GEAR UP and I saw more engagement from the students than I expected. I work at the school 2-3 days a week and don't get as much interaction from the 9th grade students as I would like, so I was a little worried about our workshop, but after Don explained why he was there and gave his background, it seemed to draw a lot of the students in. There were multiple students that were very happy to participate in the mock interviews and in creating their resumes, and the workshop sparked conversation among the students about what they'd like to do in the future which is always a good conversation to have. It was great to see them so engaged and I'm excited to plan another workshop at Kensington in the near future!" Morales wrote in a review on DonCARES of Philadelphia's Facebook page.
After a successful interview workshop with students at Kensington High School, Morales, Johnson, and Forrest are excited to host another career building workshop. "It's important that we teach our students the ins and outs of resume building since they are only a few years away from being in the workforce. Many students didn't know that their address consisted of their city, state, and zip code. 123 Main Street isn't a complete address." Forrest remarks with a somber look on his face. We need to make sure when they approach their employer they know what they're talking about.
"In a nation where our students of color are already a few feet behind in regards to the resources they gain from their schools and communities, we need to make sure all our i's are dotted and our t's are crossed," Forrest said regarding his experience working in high schools in North Philadelphia.