Agency in Youth: Learning from Challenges

by: Allen Fowler

peers-questioningThe youth’s face testified to a continuing frustration. We were at a job readiness training, about halfway through the summer work program, and taking some time to reflect around how the workplace experience was going. One young person spoke to having to put up with daily ribbing and ridicule, mostly because of their youth and inexperience. They had approached their supervisor to address the dynamic to no real avail, and now they were airing their grievance to a group of peers. I had to fight my impulse to wade in immediately, but I purposely sat back and let the youth offer their advice and insights. Suggestions ranged from answering in kind to approaching the supervisor again to trying to land a new job and then give two weeks’ notice. None of them seemed to provide an immediate solution but all were offered in support and provided grist for the mill. I held my tongue because one of the goals of employability training is to develop in youth and young adults agency, the capacity to navigate workplace challenges independently.

The Signal Success curriculum bases its methodology on the best practices to foster and augment skills development. Some of the key components surrounding the development of agency in youth are: Continue reading “Agency in Youth: Learning from Challenges”

Developing Strong Personal Brands

by Edward Wilson

manny _ claireLet’s say you are an employer and you just interviewed two potential candidates for a position at your company. Candidate X is professionally dressed, is qualified for the position, shows enthusiasm, and asks great questions. Candidate Y is almost exactly the same as Candidate X, except for the fact that candidate Y seems unfriendly and has social media accounts that contain lots of complaints about his school.

Perhaps candidate Y simply had a terrible morning and does really go to a school that merits criticism.  And, candidate Y may in fact be the better person for the job.  However, based on the information available at the time most employers will choose candidate X. In the end the difference between getting a job offer and not getting one is usually very subtle, which is why young people need help understanding how to effectively develop and display a positive personal brand.  Here are some strategies for helping teens and young adults understand personal brands so that they can market themselves to employers. Continue reading “Developing Strong Personal Brands”

The Importance of Practice

By Emily Kotwal

talkingOver the last year, I have watched my first child develop some of the most fundamental skills: making vocal sounds, putting something (OK, everything) in his mouth, rolling over, walking…the list goes on. For all of these skills, I have seen him progress through the same stages. He observes. He mimics. He tries over and over. He looks for approval. Finally, he succeeds.

The stage he spends the most time is the trying, but each stumble, fall, and gentle bit of correction comprises the practice the gets him mastery. This process of exposure, experimentation, corrections and lots of practice is also key to building career readiness skills and a huge part of what we do at Signal Success. Continue reading “The Importance of Practice”

Future Ready

 What can you do to help a teen in your life land a job?

We recently took part in a podcast for the Future Ready MA Campaign and shared ideas for helping influential adults—parents/guardians, coaches or mentors—give teens support and guidance in landing a job. Our conversation centered on helping young people develop the soft skills essential to getting and keeping jobs in today’s job market. Learn more about how to coach young people in presenting themselves in the job search and in demonstrating professional behaviors on the job.

Continue reading “Future Ready”

Why start with learning styles?

lstylesOne of the first things YouthWorks participants do in the Signaling Success work-readiness course is complete a learning style assessment. What’s the purpose of doing this in a soft skills program? While not everyone believes each of us has one particular learning style, understanding learning preferences can help us cope with situations that may feel outside our comfort zones. Find out how learning styles can be used to teach work-readiness skills. Continue reading “Why start with learning styles?”

Are teen jobs becoming a luxury good?

-Philip Taylor Photo
-Philip Taylor Photo

The provocative headline in a Boston Globe article last month prompted a needed reality check. We’ve all heard the news about the dismal state of teen employment here in MA as well as in the rest of the country. Here’s the real news: teen unemployment is now much more concentrated among low-income teens. Continue reading “Are teen jobs becoming a luxury good?”