I don't know about you, but I got nearly every job I have because someone helped me. Whether it was a family member, a teacher or a former boss, I had the backing of people who not only believed in me, but helped teach and guide me in finding jobs.
But what happens when you have....no one? Are doors slammed in your face? Do you have a chance of getting a job that will help support your family?
In this country, hard work and desire still count for a lot. As shown in this story I did for Gannett/USAToday, people helping people also matters a great deal...
Some of the most disconcerting statements employers are making as the economy begins to recover are that they're ready to hire — but they can't find the right job candidates despite the glut of unemployed people still looking for work.
Sometimes it's a matter of skills. Job candidates don't posses necessary abilities to take over more technical positions, for example. Another reason may be that an employer is unable to find an employee who fits the company's culture and growth plans.
But companies like JP Morgan Chase & Co. are finding that getting involved in the talent pipeline earlier pays off in finding the right employees when they need them.
JP Morgan is one of several employers participating in the Year Up program. The nonprofit program, started by Gerald Chertavian more than a decade ago, trains and educates young people in eight U.S. cities — often minorities with low incomes and histories of difficulties such as homelessness or abuse.
After six months of learning business basics such as how to shake hands properly and how to talk to a supervisor, the students are matched with employers in an internship program. They may do technical jobs such as desktop support or work in quality assurance, Chertavian says.
John Galante, a managing director with JP Morgan in New York, says his firm has been working with Year Up for six years and has 20 interns from the program this year.
"It breaks my heart when I hear that people don't have the skills they need to get the jobs that are available," Galante says. "I think these kinds of programs are the start of a solution. These programs take hard-working kids who might not otherwise have this opportunity and they are able to come here and make an effective contribution."
Participants in Year Up must be high school graduates, and the organization is seeking only one real quality: ambition. Once accepted into the program, participants are given a $150 a week stipend but quickly learn that business rules apply to their classroom.
"They can get docked $25 if they're even one second late to class, or $15 for every day they're late with an assignment," Chertavian says. "And we have zero tolerance for a lack of respect."
The last six months of the program are spent interning with participating employers that include Google, Bank of America and American Express. Two Year Up interns are now in the White House. During their internship, participants receive $250 a week, and the classes they take during their time with the program are given credit at colleges that are Year Up partners.
Chertavian stresses that the Year Up program is market driven, led by the needs of participating employers.
"We talk to our partners every day," he says. "We ask them what they need today and tomorrow in terms of skills."
Galante says that Year Up was "immediately responsive" when a few interns weren't meeting expectations but says he finds the majority of Year Up interns "are ready to jumpstart their careers."
"You just see it in those kids' eyes," Galante says. "They're ready to blast through that door of opportunity."
On average, 85% of the Year Up graduates earn more than $30,000 in their first jobs, Chertavian says. Many were making only $5,000 annually before the program. The program gives minorities a chance at being employed in jobs with a career ladder they might not otherwise have found.
Statistics show that the unemployment rate for young workers, ages 16 to 24, has been around 20%, with Latinos hitting 24% and African Americans reporting more than 32%.
Some estimates now show 4.4 million young adults either aren't in school or holding jobs.
"If this group isn't engaged and members of our economy, it's hard to imagine where our companies are going to find the skilled labor they need to stay competitive," Chertavian says.