When I first met him he was such a shy kid. He wouldn’t speak up and you had to really lean in to hear him. He looked uncomfortable even when answering the most basic questions. We weren’t sure if he was employment-ready but at the end of the intake he said nothing was going well for him and asked us for a chance to help him. After speaking to his referral source, our Enhanced Outreach Worker decided to accept him into the program.
During pre-employment he kept his head down and barely spoke to anyone. At the end of pre-employment he asked if he could talk to me. He told me he was going through a rough time with a unstable housing, abusive parents and had suicidal intentions. He said a few years ago he was doing well, got into a very prestigious program at Waterloo for accounting and was pursuing his dream but his life suddenly changed and he ended up not knowing what to do.
We decided to extend his pre-employment training and focus on one-on-one sessions. We focused on how to strengthen his soft skills, improve communication and determine alternative career options. He knew he had a passion for accounting but he felt he wasn’t good enough for the job. He wanted to see how a day as an accountant would feel like.
I suggested maybe job shadowing someone in the field. When we brainstormed we came up with a possibility of asking our very own Director of Finance to maybe spend a few minutes talking about her experience in the financial field. The request was made and the Director agreed to meet us. That day when I informed the youth we were going to meet Tracy, his eyes literally lit up. Until that day I never saw this youth smile before ! I could tell he felt acknowledged and that someone was finally giving him a chance. When the day finally came, I was completely blown away. This youth always wore a black hoodie and never took it off. He showed up professionally dressed, shaved and looked completely different. He was still very nervous and was still kind of quiet when he met with the Director. The meeting went well and we were able to meet the other members of the finance team. At the end of the experience I asked him to reflect on how he felt and if he wanted to shadow anyone else.
He came back one week later and said that meeting all these people has brought him new perspective on life. He said that before he felt there was only one way to accounting which was Waterloo and nothing else but after speaking to our finance team he felt he had more options. His passion for accounting was revived. He decided he was going to apply to as many places as he could try to get back into pursuing his dream. After this meeting he became more confident, started making jokes, smiling more and just was in a better place.
When he was given a placement interview, the employers loved him so much they decided to hire him on without any incentive. This was the same youth who we felt might not be employment-ready. A few months later when I followed up on the youth, he said he was doing extremely well. He had moved out and was living with a more supportive environment, working and also upgrading his marks so he can return to school.
This youth is a true example of how much of an impact we can have on a young person’s life. A simple job shadowing opportunity completely changed this youth for the better. The moral of this story is that a little bit of care and support can really go a long way. The staff at 360°kids went above and beyond in helping this youth and I feel proud that I I‘m part of an organization that lives up to their mission statement. They definitely moved him to a place of safety and stability.