This past week I invited to support the youth employment program in providing professional development to the teens in the program. In the program, there are about 60 teens employed. They have jobs all over Columbus; for many of them this is their first job. What the BGCC attempts to do is not only provide the teens opportunities to save money, but also provide them with the soft skills to be successful in life. This brings us to the topic of the professional development session I helped present— resumes and interviews.
Interview and resume skills are two skills that youth will need throughout their lives. We spoke about the importance of respect, eye-contact, confidence, and friendliness. I did a mock interview with another facilitator, and then we had the teens conduct mock interviews in groups.
If I were to design this PD (I was just helping out), I would have included a group conversation about discriminatory employment practices. I did speak with a couple students individually. As Black people, some employers won’t let us get away with actions our white counterparts can get a pass on. Although hiring discrimination is not legal, this does not stop de jure discrimination. For example, in a recent study white potential employees got callbacks from employees an astounding average rate of 36% more than Black potential employees (Quillian et al., 2017). Given this reality, I told the individual students, “In our capitalistic society we are measured by how much money we make. Those who do not have a job are considered lesser by society. However, in order to get a job, we have to “play the game.” Meaning do what is necessary so we can further our goals and support our families.” I continued, “In playing the games of society, do not lose sight of who you are and continuously strive to change this system.” This touches on the concept of “double consciousness.” Black folk are consistently finding themselves in positions where their identities are divided between what society expects and our identity as Black people.
Although I wasn’t able to have this conversation with the whole group, I thought the students I did speak with were engaged in the conversation.
Lincoln Quillian, Devah Pager, Ole Hexel, and Arnfinn H. Midtbøen (2017) Meta-analysis of field experiments shows no change in racial discrimination in hiring over time PNAS. 114 (41).