Last week hundreds of young adults dressed to impress with their best business attire and résumés arrived early and anxiously waited to enter the first 100,000 Opportunities Initiative Hiring Fair held in South LA. LeadersUp had the distinct honor of organizing and hosting this impactful event made possible by the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and with the generous participation of 100,000 Opportunities Initiative’s (100K) employer partners. Over the course of six hours, 100K employer partners held more than 500 job interviews and extended more than 200 offers on-the-spot.
With more than 200,000 opportunity youth in Los Angeles who are not working and not in school, hiring fairs are not the only solution but one of many in helping to close the opportunity divide. In just one day, untapped pools of talent within our community and employers in desperate need to fill mission-critical roles can connect and show the potential both groups have to offer. Our team brought together a dozen employers committed to bridging this divide by offering on-the-spot hiring opportunities to young adults. Employer partners included Starbucks, Chipotle, ShopHouse, Panda Restaurant Group, HMS Host, Noah’s Bagels, Einstein Bros Bagels, TOMS, Microsoft Stores, Nordstrom, Target, 5 Guys, sweetgreen and Papa John’s.
Bridging the Talent Divide
The journey for more than 150 young adults to the Hiring Fair started weeks ago when they attended one of our Winning in the Workplace Labs (WIW Labs) to receive support with mock interviews, resume building, and assistance with registering and applying for opportunities at the Hiring Fair. Most importantly young adults who attended the WIW Labs stood out from the rest because of their exposure to our customized P.O.W.E.R. Skills training that focuses on strengthening core talents all employers are seeking in new hires. Throughout the course of this event, I had pleasure of meeting with young adults who attended our WIW Labs. Each time I spoke with a young person, I heard the confidence and excitement in their voice as they described feeling prepared and knowing how to describe their unique value add to employers. The realization that a few hours of training can awaken a tenacity in young adults to present the very best version of themselves while striving to jumpstart their career is what keeps the LeadersUp team pushing to create opportunities for young adults in Los Angeles and across the country.
Many of the 18- to 24-year-olds who walked into the Hiring Fair succeeded and exceeded expectations. The possibility of gaining a job was not taken for granted by the young adults in attendance. As I spoke to attendees, they shared their stories of commitment to finding a job in order to provide for their families. Nayelly Castillo, a young mother of two, went in looking to find employment in order to provide for her family. For her, having a job means being able to take care of her family and becoming a role model. She walked out of the Hiring Fair with an employment opportunity from HMS Host.
A Supportive Network of Talent Development Partners
More than just a Hiring Fair, this event set out to provide comprehensive support and to equip our young adults with the resources and motivation to succeed. LeadersUp was ready to help empower every single young adult who walked into the event, helping those who did not have the opportunity to attend a career training by preparing them with the same amount of efficiency through mock interviews and resume reviews on-site.
This was realized in the network of 50-plus volunteers that greeted attendees and assisted in mock interviews and resume support, the in-kind donation of laptops from Locke High School that allowed attendees to print off their resume and complete job applications, the special guest appearance from celebrity DJ Yesi Ortiz with Power 106, and the donated clothes for crucial last-minute wardrobe changes.
A number of talent development organizations joined the efforts as we helped prepare over 150 young adults in the span of three weeks for interviews at the hiring fair. Brotherhood Crusade, Job Corps, Para Los Niños, Los Angeles Trade Technical College, Youth Policy Institute and Archdiocese Youth Employment were among the organizations who opened their doors to our Winning in the Workplace Labs.
Continuing the Movement for a Greater South LA
As the persistent need for employment opportunities increases throughout the South Los Angeles region, LeadersUp will continue its efforts to bridge the skills gap for the future of our workforce. The Hiring Fair is just the beginning. True success is building a pipeline of talent that can advance from entry to mid-skill level roles with ongoing skills and academic achievement. To help achieve this, young adults who received a job offer will be invited to a post hiring fair training this Wednesday to prepare for their first day and create a 30-60-90-day game plan for success. They will also receive access to the newly established “LeadersUp P.O.W.E.R. Network.” The LeadersUp P.O.W.E.R. Network was created as a space for young adults to connect with LeadersUp and their peers, and to receive challenges and multiple tips on how to implement LeadersUp P.O.W.E.R. skills in their life and careers.
This event is the result of a vast network of individuals, companies and organizations working collaboratively to make a lasting impact on the lives of young adults. To learn more about how you can become an employer partner, volunteer or talent development partner please click here.
Jeffery Wallace, President & CEO at LeadersUp