Job Club: One Step Further…

Mini and Shavez in Job Club

Job Club One of ETASHA’s main goals is to find jobs for the trainees, giving them the long-term financial stability that otherwise might not have been impossible. That is why the organization has “world of work” classes, which focus on readying students for formal employment and job hunting. The “Job Club” class is a sect of a broader group of World of Work classes.

The focus of Job Club is to develop the skills necessary to look for a job, rather than the skills necessary to maintain one (this is trained in other classes). Over the last few weeks, I have had the privilege of observing two Job Club classes, one at the Madanpur Khadar centre and one in Tigri; both were conductec by Mini Bhargava. Each three-hour class was separated into four parts. The first part focused on resources that could be used to find jobs, while the second addressed skills the trainees had learned in their three-month stint in ETASHA that could help them find jobs. The third part dealt with criteria to look at when deciding which jobs to apply for and how to be selective with advertisements. For the last hour or so, trainees would all take turns actually calling potential employers and working to land job interviews.

Because I am only fifteen years old, I haven’t even put much thought into selecting a college, much less choosing my future career! Needless to say, then, I was stunned as the children in Job Club named various resources that could be used to find all kinds of jobs—resources that I had never even thought about. When they were finished, the diffuse list included (but was not limited to) things like newspapers, billboards, Internet ads, flyers, posters, and human contacts.

As the list grew more comprehensive, it became harder for trainees to add new items, making it more exciting whenever something new was added. I was fascinated by how the children took something as prosaic as making a list of media resources and turned the process into an enjoyable game, one which stimulated their mental faculties and increased their sense of camaraderie with each other. One of the most critical parts of landing a job (or an interview) involves sounding convincing over the phone, which is why job club trainees practiced telephone etiquette in previous classes. By being able to converse fluently in Hindi and English over the telephone, trainees project confidence and competence to potential employers that they call.

In addition, they were taught to always ask for a representative’s name and call back number. In such formal conversations, command of English vocabulary is important, which is why ETASHA also focuses on improving English speaking abilities. Many of the jobs trainees might apply for could involve a rudimentary knowledge of computers, which is where the program is extremely helpful. Earlier Job Club sessions had also increased the students’ awareness about the importance of proper planning and time management in such situations.

The main conflict that trainees will face with regards to jobs is this: they will have to balance what they want to do with what they can do. For this reason, yet another focus of Job Club is being able to decide which jobs are attainable and which ones are not. This means trainees must look up the pre-requisites for applying for jobs. Obviously, applying for a job that requires an MBA or higher would be a futile effort! However, occupations that only require a completion of the 12th grade are within their grasp. In addition, trainees need to create individual CV’s to be submitted at the time of an interview.

At both centres, trainees’ (especially girls) parents are wary of them going to further afield parts of the city, further limiting their options. Now for the most exciting part about the class: the hands-on calling. In both Tigri and Madanpur Khadar at least one hour was allocated to a “live application” process, in which trainees would take turns calling potential employers. A single telephone was located in the middle of the room, and one by one, trainees would approach the phone and make a call to an employer of their choice. For me as an observer, this was by far the most engaging portion of the class.

I watched as each trainee approached the telephone with dread or exhilaration (sometimes a combination of both), and made the call. However, I noticed that regardless of what they looked like before calling, they were always smiling when they finished, even if they didn’t land an interview! Here’s why: every single time someone prepared to make the call he/she had the full support of every other trainee (and of course, faculty member) in the room.

Everyone clapped and cheered at the conclusion of every call, regardless of whether or not it was successful. This sense of familiarity and support touched me: every one of these young adults was willing to do whatever it took to help each other. For example, I frequently watched as the trainee about to make the call would read the number out loud, while another trainee would actually dial the digits on the phone.

If a trainee needed paper and pencil while on the phone, the rest of the trainees would scramble and rush to come forth with the necessary utensils. This sense of unity was contagious: when an employer unexpectedly called back and asked for a phone number, Mini gave him her own number to get an interview for one of the girls!

Essentially, this process was a win-win situation for trainees. Even if they didn’t manage to secure an interview, it didn’t matter, because the phone number that was used was an ETASHA phone, meaning that employers would never again come into contact with trainees. Also, there’s a very good chance that the employer himself didn’t have caller ID, so he could not call back to harass or intimidate trainees. As a result, trainees had nothing to fear when making calls, which boosted their confidence.

When a trainee did manage to arrange an interview on the phone the sense of achievement was huge and he/she was one step closer to finding a job in the organized sector. Stay tuned to hear about more classes like Job Club that better prepare ETASHA trainees for future employment!

–Abhishek Bhargava