Salesforce Employee Volunteers Prepare High School Students for Careers
By: Iliana Martinez, Manager, Business and Strategic Partnerships at Enterprise for High School Students
On an afternoon earlier this year, a downtown Salesforce San Francisco office was inundated with over 50 high school youth dressed in their professional finest to participate in mock job interviews with Salesforce volunteers. Through our partnership with Salesforce, the high school students were completing their final task before “graduating” from their 14 week program at Enterprise for High School Students (EHSS); a 46 year old San Francisco based nonprofit that specializes in providing local high school youth with job skills and training.
We started our relationship with Salesforce over two and a half years ago when we were looking for a diverse work environment to bring students for a career panel. “We felt that although Salesforce was a giant tech company, they also had a number of other career paths that students could learn about that didn’t necessarily have to do with tech” said Helen Lee, Program Director at EHSS. Under the Salesforce umbrella the careers are endless, from legal, marketing, to human resources; we knew that hearing from a variety of professionals working for the same company would be beneficial to our youth.
Recognizing that Salesforce encourages employees to get involved within local communities, our initial career panel was a success and since our offices are only blocks away in downtown San Francisco, we knew we had the makings of a strong partnership. We wanted our next endeavor to be even more hands on and even bigger in scale. That’s when we came up with a great way for Salesforce employee volunteers to help prepare our high school students for their future careers through interview assessments.
Each year EHSS works with over 350 youth that attend workshops twice a week that teach them job skills and college and career preparation. Most of the youth face one or more barriers, which could be anything from being a recent immigrant to receiving free lunch at school. Our students usually have few opportunities to receive this training and that’s where EHSS comes in.
By the end of the 10-14 week programs, students will have a near perfect resume and cover letter, understand the importance of money management, know how to handle conflict on the job, practice interviewing, and much more. Although we have an incredible staff, we (as many other NGOs), rely on our community of volunteers and partners to make sure we can serve our youth to the best of our abilities.
Partnering with Salesforce volunteers for the interview assessments took a huge weight off of our staff resources. And putting the students in a “real world” setting with unbiased and professional volunteer evaluators encouraged our students to step up their game. Every student rose to the occasion and we ended up having 100% “pass” rate with their interviews.
“I was impressed” stated Sara Stamm, the Salesforce liaison who worked with EHSS in putting the event together. “I was nervous in the beginning, but the volunteers were really dedicated and super engaged in the process. The students were polished and prepared for their interviews. I wish I had had a program like this when I was in high school.”
After the two and a half hour event, each student left the building with their heads held a little higher and the confidence of knowing that they would be fully prepared when they sat down for their first real job interview. The event was such a success on both ends that we are hoping to hold another one in December with another group of enthusiastic volunteers and youth!
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