Everyone is closing up shop at their respective non-profits this week, but I spent a week this summer in Hilton Head, so fortunately I’ve still got one more week to savor at Per Scholas Columbus. But this will be my final blog post about my summer fellowship experience, so I figured I ought to find a way to wrap this all up. As I was putting together my final presentation for the our closing luncheon tomorrow, I came up with three “takeaways” that I’d like to share here.
- People are willing to help; don’t be afraid to ask. I’ve seen this to be true in several capacities. At the beginning of the summer, I really had no idea what to expect and I was not very familiar with Per Scholas. I remember asking on my first day, “Wait, what are middle skills?” And the questions just kept rolling. If my coworkers weren’t so willing to help me and show me the ropes, this would have been a long and painful perspective. I’ve also seen the inherent goodness of people when it comes to donors and employment partners. When employers hear about Per Scholas, they are typically more than willing to help us out with mock interviews or to speak to the classes. Many times businesses are willing to support us financially. I think a lot of times big businesses can get a bad reputation, but Per Scholas really benefits from their help, and all we had to do was ask!
- Community engagement is key. It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived in Westerville almost my whole life and I’m just now discovering the beauty that is Columbus. I was blinded by suburbia but I have seen the light. I loved getting to see this city up close and personal and to work with the people of this city to help improve their circumstances. I think that’s what it’s all about. Investing in your community, making it better, being fully present with those whom you are serving, that is the formula for a rich life.
- Everyone deserves a chance. A lot of times, people come through the doors of Per Scholas and they are awesome job candidates, but because of a gap in their resume or a bad break with a previous employer, they haven’t been able to find work. All they need is for someone to give them a chance and they are guaranteed to succeed. I think working at Per Scholas has made me much more willing to give people a chance, to give people the benefit of the doubt, because there is always more than meets the eye. If you give somebody an opportunity, there’s always a chance that they might waste that opportunity. But there’s an even greater chance that they will do something remarkable because of your willingness to trust them.
So that is what I’m walking away with this summer. It has been an incredible opportunity to serve and to grow. Many thanks to the Columbus Foundation, Per Scholas, Dan Sharpe, Melissa Neely, Rob Guentter, and each and every person who made this experience a possibility. It has been a bigger blessing than I can say, and I know that it has changed me for the better. I’ll be seeing you around, Columbus.