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Posted on June 28th, 2019 in Events, Success Story Tags:

After weeks of work, over 60 students gathered for a ceremony at Marian University’s Allison Mansion with caps and gowns in hand to be recognized for accomplishments in overcoming their barriers to achieve educational progress.

“People invested in us, and we are so grateful,” said Sonya Barlow, who earned her hospitality (START) certification through Edna Martin Christian Center. Sonya initially went to EMCC for help with paying her utility bills, and ran into an education coach while there. After putting it off for a while, she eventually enrolled in the ten-week program, and now sees her life trajectory differently. “This is a stepping stone – now I am applying for jobs, and Edna Martin is helping me with my resume.”

Sonya Barlow (left) and Temeka Thomas

Sonya’s friend Temeka Thomas was quick to chime in when the topic of “why enroll” came up. “I did this for me – I did it to better myself,” she said. “I’m so excited – they lifted me up through losing my apartment and other tough times, but now I am here and my children are so proud of me.”

Temeka had similarly found Edna Martin Christian Center to seek help with mounting utility bills when she met Tawnya McCreary, their operations director. At this event, with numerous EMCC clients earning credentials, Tawnya appeared as a celebrity snapping photos and delivering hugs.

“Its never just social supports – we offer everything, and our clients have a choice to pursue more,” she said. “From funders, to programming, to the time that students have spent, to the efforts of staff and resources – to get here, it means our investment is getting a return. It is a blessing and an honor every time.”

Other participants were part of the YouthBuild program, which also utilizes EmployIndy’s YES Indy funding to provide NCCER construction certifications and high school equivalencies.

Travis Smith is almost 18, struggled with traditional school, and intentionally stepped into an HSE class to change his learning environment and move into a career. “This is for regular people like me,” he said, “with lots of problems going on making regular school too hard. They helped me, they checked in on me and would give me a gas card or help with a phone bill when times got tough.”

Travis Smith (right) poses with EmployIndy’s Senior Director of Opportunity Youth, Rodney Francis

The guest speaker at the ceremony, Evan Casey, left students with a feeling of inspiration – see the video below:

Today freshmen at Crispus Attucks High School participated in mock interviews at their Future Center, conducted by local business organizations, such as EmployIndy, Ivy Tech, and St. Vincent/Ascension. These students spent their semester in the course ‘Preparing for College and Careers’ taught by Polly Brelage. This course taught them about the importance of two of the three IPS School ‘Three E’ mentality: Enroll and Employ. Although the students had been preparing for these interviews, many of them still struggled to demonstrate the necessary skills for success.

Beth Bowling (EmployIndy) interviews Crispus Attucks student

“The largest barrier for these students during their interviews was not being able to supply different examples of work experience they have had,” said Beth Bowling, EmployIndy’s Associate Director of In-School Engagement. “With many students being so young and not yet having an employment history in the traditional sense, many of them had a difficult time thinking outside the box and translating their life experience into a workplace setting.”

However, not all students struggled with this part of the prompt. Brian, one of the interviewees, shared a bit of his experience with the mock interview:

“The hardest part was definitely when they asked about my experience and why I would be good for the job since I’ve never worked anywhere before,” he stated. “But then I remembered that I could pull from examples in my own life. I talked about different jobs I’ve had around the house and how I’ve been mowing the yard and tied that into how it makes me a hard worker and good at multitasking.”

“I was so proud of Brian. This entire semester he has been quiet and hesitant to speak up and his performance today truly impressed me,” said Polly, reflecting on her students’ experiences. “Many students don’t understand how important it is to participate in mock interviews. Although they don’t see it now, down the road they will realize what they learned in this class made a difference in their life.”

Mechelle Polter (EmployIndy) interviewing Brian (Crispus Attucks student)

By participating in conducting mock interviews, employers and business leaders can truly impact a student’s future. It may seem mundane during the practice, but this kind of work-based learning experience is one of many that shapes an individual as they prepare for the workforce. As a workplace professional, you have the skills to not only help young adults get ready for job interviews, you also know some ‘tricks of the trade.’

“You need to remember you are interviewing the company just like they are interviewing you,” shared Mechelle Polter, EmployIndy’s Work-based Learning Manager, during a Q&A at the end of the mock interview session. By helping students’ practice, they are gaining more than just basic interview skills – they are having life experiences.

Robert King (Ivy Tech) interviews Crispus Attucks student

Robert King, Assistant Director of K-12 Initiatives at Ivy Tech Community College, chose to take this one step further as he tied in not only how it is important to interview well, but also how crucial it is to expand their education in order to pursue a good and promising career. Through Ivy Tech’s dual-credit program, Crispus Attucks students have the opportunity to earn over one semester of transferrable course credits, saving them thousands down the road.

If you want to participate in a work-based learning experience but don’t know if an off-site mock interview is the right fit for you, EmployIndy offers connections to many other opportunities for students to experience the workforce first-hand. We are able to provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to conduct an on-site tour, participate in job shadowing or guest speaking, establish an outline for a successful apprenticeship or internship, and other work-based learning opportunities for young people.

Contact our business solutions and talent team at to get started today!

Posted on May 3rd, 2019 in Events, Success Story Tags:

As part of #HireIndyYouthWeek, EmployIndy worked with FedEx to offer a work-based learning experience to students from George Washington High School. The event featured a site tour, learning from staff, and opportunity to learn about and apply for specific jobs.

Check out the video below to learn more about the experience and how impactful it was for the students and the FedEx staff who participated. If your business is interested in hosting a tour like this, contact us to get started.