D.C. Unemployed Get Help from Georgetown
October 22, 2010 –Unemployed and underemployed residents in Washington, D.C., who live in underserved communities are getting assistance from Georgetown on ways to land jobs.
The university is partnering with Project Empowerment, a D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) initiative whose participants come from wards 7 and 8. According to DOES, these areas’ unemployment levels have reached 30 percent -- three times higher than the citywide average.
Landing a Job
Georgetown’s human resources department conducts twice-weekly mock interview sessions with project participants, who also receive tips about employer expectations such as appropriate apparel and ethics in the workplace.
“Talking from an employer’s perspective is important because it helps lay out what other city employers are looking for,” says Linda Hopper, director of training and development. “The goal here is both to prepare people to interview for permanent positions and to help them find success on the job.”
Gaining confidence to find employment is also a key factor in getting jobs, says Linda Greenan, associate vice president for external relations. She says some Ward 7 and 8 residents are chronically under- or unemployed, while others are ex-offenders.
“The sessions talk about vital things like putting together a résumé, but another part of the program is how to feel good about yourself and how to translate your life experiences to sell yourself as an employee,” Greenan explains.
A Step Further
The university recently took the partnership a step further by employing two residents who graduated from Project Empowerment.
The residents are now working for Georgetown’s university facilities department and the art and art history department with salaries subsidized by DOES, which continues supporting the workers.
“The goal here is to move them into permanent jobs with the skills they will need,” Hopper says.
Collaborating with DOES makes sense given the wards’ extremely high unemployment rate, Greenan says.
“At Georgetown, we feel it is our obligation to help make life better for people in need in Washington,” she explains.
John Morrell says the art and art history department he chairs has a Project Empowerment alumnus helping with administrative and receptionist duties as he learns computer skills, gains office experience and interacts with the larger Georgetown community.
“I really applaud the university for getting involved with this,” Morrell says. “It’s such a tough job market out there and anything we can do to help people get training and skills is beneficial.”