Youth Villages stories

LifeSet youth participating in the annual Job Prep program.
2018 Job Prep Graduating Class

Job Prep Workshop Helps Young Adults Prepare for Successful Future

Oct 21, 2020 | Blog

Each year, approximately 20,000 young adults across the country turn 18 while in foster care. They are preparing to leave foster care – alone – and statistics tell us that doesn’t usually end well, with many  experiencing incarceration, homelessness and unemployment.

The Youth Villages LifeSet program serves as a bridge from foster care to successful adulthood for young people who turn 18 while in foster care, working to improve outcomes for these young adults with 90% of the young people in our program living independently and either having a job or being enrolled in school two years after discharge.

One way that Youth Villages works to help improve outcomes for these young people in New England is through our annual Job Prep program. The program helps at-risk young adults in LifeSet find and keep stable employment. Research shows these young people, who have aged out of state services without strong familial support, have trouble finding and maintaining jobs. Studies also show that the lack of employment may increase risk factors that contribute to delinquency, homelessness, dropping out of school and substance use.

Our five-week Job Prep program teaches young adults steps and skills related to obtaining and maintaining employment. Our workshops include trainings on job application processes, resume writing, interview skills, dressing for success and networking. Participants are paired with mentors from the professional community who volunteer to provide mentorship, information about career options, education, training and personal experience to practice these skills. This is a valuable resource that also encourages success among the young adults we serve.

“This is my second year volunteering for Job Prep, and I am excited to continue helping Youth Villages because they target a population that doesn’t get enough attention,” said Nick A., a Job Prep coach. “I love seeing young adults grow and gain self-confidence as we try to prepare them for the real world.”

Program participants get on-the-spot and continued support, as well as focused feedback from job prep coaches, their peers, and the educational and vocational coordinator.

Brooke, a young adult in the program, was feeling insecure and doubtful in building her employment skills. Although she felt nervous and oftentimes overwhelmed, she attended each workshop engaged yet still shy. She created a resume despite limited resources and gained employment one week after the Job Prep workshop ended. She was so proud of her accomplishment and demonstrated noteworthy progress as she took initiative to apply her newly learned skills to gain employment.

“I acquired new skills to help me with job searching,” said Sole V., a Job Prep participant. “Interviews are always intimidating, but practicing mock interviews with the group helped me prepare for an interview to decrease my stress and feel excited about my next interview.”

In our effort to promote increased engagement and consistent attendance, interested young adults are nominated by their specialist based on their need, desire and ability. We take every possible step to create a program that is interesting, informative and engaging and want participants to walk away with useful skills they can apply in real-world employment situations.

Our goal for each session of the Job Prep program is that 100% of program participants find employment by the time the program ends. We are always so proud when our LifeSet young adults are able to land jobs they love using the skills they acquired in the Job Prep program.

“Job Prep helped my young adults grow in so many ways,” said Asmaa E., a LifeSet Specialist for Youth Villages. “It helped build confidence within them and helped them build their employment skills. One of my young adults already started applying for jobs and has received multiple job offers!”

If you are interested in the Job Prep program in Massachusetts, contact Shalesha Smith for more information.

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