April 13, 2011

Introducing Bread for the City's Job Developer, Malton Edwards!

We’re pleased to introduce Malton Edwards IV, Bread for the City’s first Job Developer! Malton comes to us from Hartford, Connecticut, and has a masters in public administration, with a minor in economic development and urban planning. That makes him a perfect fit for us! And especially given the recent news about Wards 7 and 8 having some of the worst unemployment in the country, we’re excited to announce the expansion of our job development program. --ed

As an undergrad at Howard University in 2005, I first came to Bread for the City to volunteer in the food pantry -- and the organization impressed me right away. From then on, when I thought of service in DC, I immediately thought of Bread for the City. It’s very comprehensive. In some communities it’s hard enough to find medical and legal services, let alone food -- and for them to be all encompassed in one space, it’s just really exceptional.

I was actually coming back to volunteer on the day that I saw the job opportunity and applied.

Now I’m working here as as their first job developer in their Pre-Employment Program; also knows as PEP. PEP helps clients build job readiness skills, self confidence and self esteem. We look at the whole person and identify their needs. From what I can see, being a professional job developer is about three things: Development, Research, Advocacy.

By developing a person – getting them ready, building their portfolio, and bringing them through a personal metamorphosis – we’re able to prepare them for the job that they desire (not just the one that we can fit them into).

By engaging in research, we can see what’s out there. Using the web and our networking skills and even just a cold telephone call -- that’s what helps us find the opportunities for our clients.

Then, advocacy. That part is actually going out to the employers and advocating for the clients and our program itself. We talk to employers about our clients, and we talk to them about our services and our program, so that they know and trust us. Even if they don’t hire a particular applicant whose resume they have in hand, they know about us in the future.

I’m finding that this job is tons of trial and error. Throw out stuff and see what works. But that’s something I like to do. I’m dressed in a tucked shirt and tie four days out of five. And you really don’t have to do that at Bread for the City. But I’m making sure to demonstrate to the clients that this is what it means to be employable, to be professional.

And it’s starting to work. The classes in our Pre-Employment Program are still small -- just 8 people. But we’ve already had 5 successful job placements so far.

One person had a criminal record in his background, which would normally prevent him from getting a job. Originally he was averse to things like dressing up. He wanted to be a chef, so from his perspective, wearing a tie wasn’t necessary. We had to explain that in a job interview, you’re marketing yourself -- and not just one specific skill, but yourself as a whole person. We worked with him to revamp his resume and cover letter and groom him for the workplace. When he came back to us and told us his story of meeting with the employer, he said the employer loved his resume and loved his deportment. And now he has a job as a cook. He’s on his way.

Another client doesn’t have a high school education, and she didn’t have high confidence or interpersonal skills. But she’s been dedicated in coming to class, revamping her resume and cover letter. The other week she went out and applied to 14 jobs. That’s just not something she’d done before. And she got two interviews this week. She said it’s all been a liberating experience for her – not just the work on getting the jobs, but the whole process of personal evolution. Now she comes to PEP classes in business attire. You have to dress yourself mentally before you can go out and do these things, and that’s what we help with here.

One of my great inspirations is Newark’s mayor, Cory Booker. He says ‘you’ll never have a great Newark without a great educational system.’ And you can see that here in DC, especially east of the river. The educational system is broken, which leaves people without hope. If people are better educated and better trained, things will start to turn around.

Though Bread for the City’s services haven’t included education per se, we do consider ourselves a center for personal development -- and so a curriculum of things like job readiness fits right into our model and worldview (alongside classes like cooking and computer literacy). In this, like everything, we take a holistic approach: it’s not just trying to help you to find a job, but about helping you become a whole person.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Your PEP program sounds great! Congratulations to Malton and Bread for the City. Where and when does this class take place and how can DC residents sign up?