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A Tale of Two Cities: Sharing Skills to Close Silicon Valley Divide with JVS

“A Tale of Two Cities” – this is how Laura Alei from nonprofit JVS (Jewish Vocational Service) describes the widening rift in the San Francisco Bay Area.  While Silicon Valley, tech, and the thriving entrepreneurship scene are the topics du jour, a few Bay Area facts illustrate a striking reality:

  • 23,000 individuals in San Francisco alone are unemployed. [Click to Tweet]
  • Low-income households are increasing while middle-wage jobs are on the decline.
  • The Bay is the most unequal region in the U.S. according to leading demographer Professor Manuel Pastor.

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SAP with the help of HandsOn Bay Area deployed a team of employees to volunteer their skills to help unemployed individuals prepare for the job search. Volunteers spent a half day on Wednesday at JVS conducting mock interviews and resume reviews. JVS is an organization that has helped 75,000 individuals in San Francisco develop in-demand skills, make connections, and attain career-building jobs during its 40 years of operation. In fact, JVS flaunts greater client employment rates than for-profit staffing agencies. [Click to Tweet]

As for the results of the activity? Feedback from JVS’s job seekers was overwhelmingly positive:

“My SAP volunteers were very well prepared, professional and extremely helpful. They helped me overcome my fear of interviews and I left feeling very confident and empowered.”

“I got VERY insightful feedback from the SAP Mock Interview Event! It was so helpful to practice telling my stories and to gain more strategies to WOW an employer in an interview.”

In addition to making an impact, it turned out the experience also impacted the team in return – through insight, fulfillment, and inspiration.

“I thought I understood some of this harsh reality of my city,” noted Moya Watson an Innovation Product Manager. “Today because of JVS I heard the actual figures associated with joblessness – 23,000 unemployed here in San Francisco – and met two real-world job seekers.  I was struck by our differences (employed versus unemployed), but also the precarious little that separates us in our notoriously unstable job market.”

For Product Manager Kartik Bandhuvula, the experience of sharing skills and contributing to another’s development was “truly rewarding” and “exciting.” He highlighted how “all the interviewees had unique experiences to share and interesting stories to tell. I really enjoyed learning about their career paths, passions and goals.”

Arunima Kumar Corporate Affairs expressed how packed, but also meaningful the activity turned out to be. “I enjoyed working one-on-one with someone and am glad I could use my experiences to help them. I would definitely seek out similar opportunities in future. It was also a great way to meet and get to know other people from SAP.”

In calling fellow colleagues to action, Senior Director Satheesh Gannamraju mentioned how, “Personally, it is very fulfilling helping others. I could honestly do more. It takes very little from each one of us to help a larger community.” [Click to Tweet]

Hopefully, by continuing to bridge the gap between the “two cities” through community-oriented service, the vision of one inclusive, united city can become reality.

This event is part of SAP’s global Month of Service, which has been happening for 10 years. Worldwide, 15,000 employees will donate 80,000 hours – more than nine years – of service to the communities in which they live and work.

How has helping others helped you? Tweet @apolack and learn more about how you can get involved with JVS, HandsOn Bay Area, and SAP’s Month of Service.

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      Author's profile photo Moya Watson
      Moya Watson

      Thank you so much for sharing this Amira and for inviting me.

      It was a privilege to be even a small part of this very well organized event.  I wish those I had the opportunity to speak with the best of success and know they'll hear great news soon.