This past week FutureFIRST offered a professional development Boot Camp for the renowned D.C. Summer Youth Employment Program, hosted by the D.C. Department of Employment Services’ (DOES) Youth Employment Office. We were excited to be one of several organizations chosen to empower participants to stand out at their summer opportunities.

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On the first day we covered public speaking. Participants practiced speaking about themselves and about an unfamiliar topic, and offered each other constructive criticism. The rest of the week included sessions on financial literacy, workplace attire, entrepreneurship, relationship building, resumes and interviewing, personal branding, and digital presence and etiquette.

“What stood out to me was the [session on] budgeting, with our bank account,” said Allexis Baylor, who hopes to become a social worker. “Everyone should know how to manage their money.”

Our participants are illustrators, humanitarians, gamers, aspiring entrepreneurs, civic spokespersons, community servants, and much more. Some have been assigned to their internship sites in years past and hope that this is the summer these become permanent jobs. Others don’t have much experience, but are determined to set goals that will yield a satisfying career. All are putting in the effort each day.

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“Our instructor was telling us about all the different internship and professional programs in D.C., and I didn’t know about that,” said LaTonya Williams, an aspiring photographer, who added that she appreciated learning “how to word answers in an interview.”

FutureFIRST’s Boot Camp was fortunate to secure space in the Garfield Terrace Senior Residence, a D.C. community mainstay. Our team and SYEP participants benefited from the presence, care, and storytelling of the residents, with special thanks to Residence President Muhsin “Boe” Umar. As the week concluded, Boe and theFutureFIRST team brainstormed opportunities to give back to this close community that kindly housed us for the week.

We produced our Boot Camp in partnership with Solutions by SF a D.C.-based, black woman-owned business consulting firm. Its CEO, Shermica Farquhar, offered a session on interview skills and resume building, which our participants found helpful. Dr. Connell Wise, Nnamdi Amechi, and our co-founder Cortni Grange also served as featured instructors.

“The interviewing skills and financial literacy — saving money, investing,” we’re the most valuable lessons to Rahcmon Shabazz, whose skills include visual art and strong communication aptitude. “What caught my attention the most is that everybody here is really trying to help. They’re not just here to get paid.”

 

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