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Millennial Mentor Planning for Career, Life Beyond College

“The more people I speak to, the more I realize that it’s ultimately my decision,” Max says thoughtfully, considering his career options on a rainy afternoon in Center City. “I think I went around searching for the answer from others for a little bit.”

Max, 21, will begin his senior year at Temple University this month, and like many of his peers in the JEVS-operated Franklin C. Ash Summer Internship Program, is recognizing that graduation – and “real life” is right around the corner. Fortunately, Max has some options already lined up, but in speaking with him, you note the hopefulness – and concerns – of this year’s college seniors.

“I grew up in Baltimore, following baseball in particular,” the journalism major notes. “When I realized I couldn’t throw a 95 mile an hour fastball, I channeled it into sports journalism.  I interned at a radio station in high school and worked as an editor in the school paper – I really enjoy the research and writing aspect, learning things, developing ideas and analysis.”

President of Hillel at Temple University, Max realized early on that group involvement would be a good way to increase his chances at a future he would enjoy.

“I think of work as part-living and providing for family, but if you can manage it, also about doing something you enjoy,” he said. “My grandmother is a social worker and my grandfather is a rabbi; my father operates a treatment facility for abused and neglected children in Baltimore…so fulfillment – this idea that you could be doing something with your life to assist others – that’s very appealing to me.”

In fact, in addition to his extracurricular activities, Max earned two consecutive years of summer internships with AJC – helping to expand intergroup/interfaith relationships within the diverse Philadelphia region and to press for human rights and democratic values around the world. These experiences changed him, and gave him broad perspective over how an individual can shape the world.

“I feel like my peers are cautiously optimistic,” he notes. “When we talk about this, there’s definitely anxiety about getting a job, but it’s more ‘It will come along, it may take some time, but there is a job that is meaningful and out there and isn’t totally out of reach for me.’”

He’s quick to note that in addition to parental pressure, students today are also susceptible to the major issue of student loan debt.

“There’s a decent amount of anxiety that comes from that,” he says, noting that some of his peers have been working throughout college to minimize the damage upon graduation. While humble about his own successes (he is a published author), Max does note the resources and steps that his peers have taken to put their own best feet forward in the working world.

“Many of my friends are interning, and doing a decent amount of networking, both on and off campus. I see them leveraging those relationships, as well as monitoring job websites, and doing research on the different organizations that are out there.”

He recommends that college students also consider taking advantage of career services offered at their local school, or within their community. For instance, JEVS Career Strategies offers resume review, interview skills, career workshops and job placement assistance for the Jewish community and beyond.

Turning more philosophical, Max discussed generational stereotypes and how culture might change in future years.

“I really think that especially today, we’re challenged by our own echo chambers,” he said. “I worry that there’s this tendency that we have to despair – we might say ‘things are so broken and I’m right and you’re wrong’, we might say ‘older people are terrible’ – and I feel like what I’m most optimistic about life after college is this idea that we’ll be exploring different values and ideas, and broadening our horizons. At JEVS, with our younger Lasko mentees, and then at AJC, where we’re working with Siempre Salsa, creating social interaction between the Latino community and the other communities – it’s that interaction, that community-building that leads to relational advocacy…that helps to make the world a better place.”

Teen Battle Chef Competition, Independence Being Cooked Up at Kitchen Table

The vibe is definitely backyard barbeque, even in a concrete building and kitchen converted to a classroom.

The Temptations “Just My Imagination” on iTunes. Sloppy joes. Jerk chicken kabobs being assembled. Fruit skewers. Lots of laughter. Maybe some muffled complaints about washing dishes.

You’d never know it’s the backdrop to a cooking competition. Or, looking deeper, that the setting is teaching real-life skills. But it’s all that, plus some, according to the instructors of JEVS Kitchen Table.

“These young adults are like my babies. I feel like I’m at home,” says Yalanda Lewis, program instructor at Kitchen Table.

Operated by JEVS Human Services in conjunction with the Achieving Independence Center (AIC), Kitchen Table can serve as an important rite of passage for 14 to 21-year-olds at AIC who are looking to brush up on their culinary repertoire–or merely shop for nutritional items on a budget.

But today is one of AIC’s quarterly recognition days, which means that feeding 150 celebratory members and guests is on the menu.

“I wasn’t really a cooker,” said Tylier, browning large quantities of ground beef on the stove. “But I like to eat, so…” He smiles. “It’s helpful when everybody is cool and friendly.”

That cool, friendly vibe is perpetuated by Lewis and Jocelynn Marshall, who run their kitchen as a part-time classroom, gastronomy laboratory and skill-building seminar.

“I’ve served other people as a job,” said Kenneth, who is halfway through the program, and whose favorite thing to cook for his grandmother is chicken florentine. “Here, I was able to figure out what I like to do: bake.”

It’s like a kitchen at home, you never sit because you’re being shown or taught something or trying a new thing.”

“That’s a big goal of ours,” noted Marshall. “We just want them to say at the end ‘I gained some type of independence in the kitchen; I know something different than when I walked in the door.’”

Marshall agreed. “There’s a level of trust in all this. Members come to us and they say, ’Who are you and what can you teach me?’ Showing that you truly care helps encourage young adults to open up and accept not only you, but new foods, new tastes, and new ideas.”

But with food put aside for recognition day, the chatter quickly turned to Kitchen Table’s upcoming event–the 4th Annual Teen Battle Chef competition, with a friendly showdown against Team Get HYPE Philly and the Free Library of Philadelphia. (Note: The competition was held Friday, July 28, 2017.)

“I’ve been doing this [Teen Battle Chef] all four years,” said Aicha. “I was born in Malaysia, and left there at the age of five. I like the different types of food there; it was my passion to be a chef at one point. This is a chance to be competitive and show different types of cuisine.”

The competition, in addition to allowing young adults the opportunity to explore foods from around the world in a “Chopped”-style cook off, also teaches valuable lessons about leadership, teamwork, time management and presentation.

“Teen Battle Chef allows for goal-setting,” said Marshall. “We ask members to come in and talk each day about how they feel; why they feel that way; what their goal is for the day…and how you or someone you know can help accomplish that goal.”

It’s the constant hunger for new goals that motivates–even in this laid-back classroom on a Friday afternoon, cool jams playing and all.

“There’s a lot of negativity in the world,” said Lewis. “But these young people know that they can always come back to the kitchen; that they’re adventurous enough to try new things and that they’re skilled enough to provide for themselves and for others. That’s real.”

A special thank you to Teen Battle Chef partners: Achieving Independence Center, The Free Library of Philadelphia, The Food TrustGet HYPE Philly!, and the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services.

To our judges: Kenneth Bush from Bistrot La Minette, Jezabel Careaga from Jezabel’s, and Nigel Bowe, program director for the JEVS-operated The Choice is Yours.

To our coordinators: Rose Skolnick, Aurora Sanchez, and Sheena Starling

And to our Co-Hosts: Scott Seiderman from JEVS, and Gregory Wright from the Mayor’s Office of Education.

Thank You to Our Internship Partners & Funders


Thank You…to the following organizations for taking part in our internship programs:

American Jewish Committee Congregation Tifereth Israel Federation Early Learning Services (FELS)
Gratz College HIAS Pennsylvania Hillel at Temple University
Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia Israeli American Council
JEVS Human Services Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Mitzvah Food Project
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Mitzvah Food Digital Choice Food Program Kaiserman JCC KleinLife
Kohelet Yeshiva High School Middle East Forum Moss Rehab
Northeast NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) Orleans Technical College Ramah Day Camp
Society Hill Synagogue URJ Camp Harlam

and Special Thanks…to our Foundation Funders for their generous support:

Ash Family Foundation Lasko Family Foundation
Joseph Alexander Foundation, Inc. Henry and Helen Bienenfeld Foundation
Louis D. Brandeis Law Society Foundation JEVS Foundation
Ivan and Etta Szeftel Teen Giving Project

Ask Ms. Judy: Sage of the Senior Job Search—Part 4

Tips, Wisdom and Just Plain Old, Good Advice for Mature Job Seekers
By Ms. Judy Cherry, Career Advisor/Program Coordinator, JEVS Career Solutions for 55+

I hear one, if not all, of these comments week to week.

“Here is my three-page résumé. I have 2 versions, but I do not want to do return to what I did for 30 years. I am not sure what I want.”

“I just want a part-time job, something to get me out of the house”.

“I know I have not worked in 15 years, but I am not working for less than $60,000 per year…maybe $55K.”

“I want a low-stress job. A little something, something located in Center City only.”

Hmm. Where should I start with these? Let’s get really real and look at how sophisticated and savvy mature job searchers become savvy enough to deal with their quest for employment in today’s market. And, the almighty COMPETITION! Savvy job seekers become Proactive, Prepared, Practiced, and they follow advice outlined in Ms. Judy’s previous articles (just had to include that plug!).

Here’s some frequently asked questions and my answers on how to deal with the competition out there.

1. How does my competition do it? What do they do?

MS. JUDY: They can avoid frustration; stay focused and encouraged by joining job clubs. Job clubs often invite successful career professionals with years of experience in lots of different areas. Many have already landed a job and can offer great advice and share their experiences. Job clubs also include proactive job seekers that may know about prospective job leads. This can be a great morale booster.

Savvy job seekers also realize early that they may have a degree that has changed over the years and have skills that are no longer required. So they acquire professional certifications, get any background clearances necessary and they remain in touch by joining professional organizations.

They also routinely review job postings so they have a concise idea of all current requirements and skill sets.

They know it is important to access sophisticated social networking tools such as LinkedIn, but they also know that joining large organizations, such as churches, synagogues or mosques can be used to their advantage. Many religious organizations have huge congregations often as large as 20,000 members.

Ms. Judy recommends, joining all of them. They are easy to access, you come in contact with lots of people and it’s free, (most of the time). Take plenty of résumés and try to pass them out at the door.  Imagine if 20,000 people knew you need a job? I am sure sooner or later someone will know about an employment opportunity for you and be sure to say a prayer while you’re there!

2. What do they know?

MS. JUDY: They know who they are competing with! It’s not just younger job seekers, but older job seekers. YES, older job seekers! They have a lot to offer! They have a firm idea of the current qualifications, critically important skill sets, and what employers require. Older job seekers have a realistic understanding of what they are worth and salaries that employers are offering.

Savvy job seekers seek professional help early. They know not to put all their eggs in one basket, they go to lots of employment agencies and programs—yep, big ones and small ones—and they are aware of what these programs can and cannot offer and how they work. They may also appreciate that workforce professionals usually have very large caseloads, often exceeding 200 job seekers. Each referral requires lengthy processes. So the savvy job seekers does as much homework as possible and they are prepared before meeting with a workforce professional.

3. Does a savvy job seeker practice for the interview?

MS JUDY: Great question. A+ for asking this! The competition is aware of a major mistake job seekers make–they know that job seekers must devote time to do serious homework to prepare for an interview. They know that just because having a great resume and attending a 100 interview workshops does not mean they are going to ace the all-important interview.  

“Winging it” 20 years ago in an interview may have been okay back in the day, but is not good enough to land a job today. Interviewing requires practice and more practice, a firm understanding of what the position requires, and how to interpret the meaning of interview questions.

They know that many job seekers do not devote enough time to practice professional answers. Don’t tell me you think it’s acceptable to ad lib your answers! You are likely to not be selected for a position. Savvy job seekers know that looking for work is work.

Here’s my final thoughts on preparing yourself for a job search to beat the competition.

“If you think you can wing it in today’s competitive employment environment, as you did back in the day, you will get your wings clipped.” Remember what Aretha Franklin sang, “You Better Think!”

I hope you’ve enjoyed my fourth installment of Ask Ms. Judy! Now you have a basic idea of all that goes into beating out the competition.

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Be sure to check out all of my Ask Ms. Judy blogs: 

Part 1 … February 2016 – Résumé, Interview and Salary Advice for the 55+ Job Seeker

Part 2… July 2016 – New to Job Searching? 4 Tips to Get You Started

Part 3 … February 2017 – Time for a Career Change!

Part 5 … February 2018 – Determining Company Culture; Why it Matters to the Interview

Part 6 … July 2018 – Did Your Job…Lose You?

Part 7 … January 2019 – How to Convince Hiring Managers That You Are Indeed Tech-Savvy

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If you are a Philadelphia resident over age 55 and looking for a new part-time or full-time job, I can help you. (For free!) Call me at JEVS Career Solutions for 55+ at 267-647-7137 or click on this link for more info.

Introducing TechServ Scholars, New “Learn & Serve” Partnership with AmeriCorps

TechServ Scholars AmeriCorps Program, operated by JEVS Human Services in partnership with AmeriCorps, is a unique, year-long opportunity for Philly youth ages 17-24 who want to help their community while developing advanced knowledge in IT (information technology) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Incentives to participants include living allowance, health care benefits, laptop and much more! The new program starts on August 21st and enrollment is now open via www.jevshumanservices.org/techserv.   

Through “Learn & Serve” experiences, participants will gain hands-on, career skills and, in turn, provide digital literacy training to more than 400 younger youth in grades 5-12 living in the region’s most vulnerable and under-resourced neighborhoods. TechServ scholars will serve as technology ambassadors, reaching local children, teens and community members through the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation’s public computer centers and other community-based programs, as well Hopeworks ‘N Camden. 

“We envision a community in which all young people—regardless of their circumstances—have the opportunity to connect to the education and supports that help them launch successfully into the workforce,” said Jay Spector, JEVS president & CEO. “We were thrilled to receive a national AmeriCorps grant to start up TechServ and bring our ‘gateway strategy’ to reality, by providing progressive, work-based learning experiences that introduce youth to real career pathways.” 

Through this new TechServ Scholars program, JEVS aims to provide 20 young adults with the high-impact training and support they need to build skills in the region’s booming tech field, as well as the mentorship and experience they need to become community leaders over the long term. Upon completion of the program, participants may be connected to pre-apprenticeship opportunities or higher education.

> Read more about grant from AmeriCorps here.

You Were Chosen for a Reason: Intern Reflections on Being a Summer Mentor

By Lauren Marks, JEVS Intern (Temple University Class of 2018)

I know what you are thinking, but it’s true. I was chosen for this internship for a reason.

Since I was a sophomore at Temple University, I told others that I want to work in advertising for a non-profit agency. This summer, while being fully immersed in the non-profit work environment, my feelings were further validated that I have made the right choice. As a Franklin C. Ash Summer Intern (a program of JEVS Human Services), I was given the honor to work alongside Kristen Rantanen in the JEVS Communications & Public Affairs Department. Through the past six weeks, I have been able to complete some incredible projects, as well as learn new skills. These projects include writing the Inspiration Award nomination profiles for JEVS Strictly Business event, organizing the newsletter with members of our Philadelphia Independence Network (PIN), and running the agency’s Instagram at larger-scale events. It has been so great getting to do this work, and it makes me so happy.

I have also enjoyed getting to know my new friend and mentee from another JEVS youth program, Lasko College Prep Program. Being an Ash Intern is incredibly special, because I am given allotted time to spend special moments with my mentee and the other Lasko and Ash interns. I enjoy being a mentor, because I have always found people that I look up to, and it is really nice to know that I am that person to my mentee. On the days that we are all together, we have gotten to know each other better through great interactive activities. My mentee and I had the most fun during the Mitzvah Day; we spent the afternoon at JEVS’ group homes decorating plant pots and making lunch with our new friends, James and Eddie. Though James and Eddie did not communicate much verbally, it was really important for us to go. I know that we made their day. My mentee and I also really enjoyed the Challah Bake. We were fortunate enough to volunteer with Challah for Hunger and get the chance to braid and bake our own Challah. I had no idea what a master Challah maker my mentee was until that day. We had a great time and were able to make lasting memories.

I am someone who likes to help people. As the community service (tzedek) chair of Hillel at Temple University, it has always been my mission to help people in need. But I want to do more than that. With the theme of the summer at the Ash and Lasko programing being Tikun Olam (Repairing the World), it seemed so fitting that I was placed in the Communications office where I was fortunate enough to meet members of some of their most inspiring programs: Philadelphia Independence Network, The Choice is Yours, and E3 Power Center City, just to name a few.

Coming up on my last week at my internship, I think back. I think about how six weeks ago, I did not know anything about designing a graphic online, following Google’s analytics platform, or how to use certain design tools. Fast forward a little bit, and now I can confidently create flyers, infographics, and so much more. I felt like I knew social media well, then went to Philadelphia’s Social Media Day conference and realized how much more there is to know! I recall myself being nervous to be working in a corporate office, but now I am able to joke around with everyone in the office and have established great connections. Most importantly, I think fondly and reminisce about the things that I have seen. I witnessed more than 50 young adults switch over their tassels as they graduated and earned their high school diplomas. For many, a high school diploma is something that is taken for granted.

This is something I previously took for granted, but won’t anymore.

Interning at JEVS has been a humbling experience. I have done my best to be a better person since interning here. Now, when I walk down the street, I try to give the less fortunate any money or food that I have with me. Although I do not truly understand what they are going through, I have a greater appreciation of the situation, and I want to help others as much as I can. Anyone could have been a summer intern here, but I was chosen for a reason. I’m so glad that JEVS chose me.

> See our partner lists: internship site hosts and funders.

> Read also Jeremy’s reflections about his JEVS internship and Mitzvah Day.

The Choice is Yours Penn Foster Graduation July Graduation In The News

July 12, 2017 was an important day for five participants in the JEVS The Choice is Yours (TCY) program as they received their high school diplomas from Penn Foster Education. At one time, Marisol Mas, Terrence English, Tabitha McNally, Joseph Peralta and Damon Purnell were facing one-to-two-year prison sentences as first-time nonviolent felony drug sellers. Instead, they took the opportunity offered by TCY to pursue education and put themselves on a positive, productive path for the future.

Several local news stations were there to capture this special day for the graduates. Follow the links below to see the clips of the coverage:

KYW 1060

CBS 3

6 ABC

In addition, Marisol Mas, the Class Valedictorian, was featured in a story in El Sol and Star News.

Ash-Lasko Mitzvah Day Makes a Difference

by Jeremy Goodman, JEVS Intern (Temple University Class of 2018)

My name is Jeremy Goodman; I’m studying political science at Temple University. As a Franklin C. Ash Summer Intern, I’ve had a terrific experience thus far. My internship has me working with Hillel at Temple University, where I’ve been performing web and development-related tasks, along with other duties. 

Today, July 7, 2017, both the Ash and Lasko interns had a great opportunity. We were able to work for a few hours at the Jewish Relief Agency (JRA), followed by one of the many group homes that are owned and supported by JEVS Human Services. I had been to the JRA many times before, with my university and my family, and the agency’s daily impact to the community is very important. While there, we packed boxes with food, organized recyclables, and wrote birthday cards for the many recipients of JRA services. It felt great to be able to make a box that would feed a grandmother, an elderly couple or even a family; it meant a lot to me, as my family has always taught me to try and give back as much as we can.

After our work at the JRA, my mentees (I have two, from the Lasko Program this year) and I visited a JEVS group home. I think we were a bit nervous, yet excited to meet a new friend. Richard, as it turns out, is an amazing human being, and he couldn’t have been friendlier. We painted flower pots together and discussed restaurants, comic book characters, and places to visit. Richard had a date with his girlfriend the following day, and he told us about her as we completed our planting.

One aspect of this internship experience that I’ve really enjoyed is the mentor-mentee relationship. Through the physical labor at JRA and then again at Richard’s, I was able to talk with both Ari and Aaron, and really enjoyed our casual conversations. I don’t feel like this will be the last time that any of us will visit JRA or a JEVS program, and as we move back into our everyday routines, the experiences today will serve as a reminder that people do care and we can all make progress/make a difference with some paint, a pot, and a few friends.

Making Hope Happen for E3 Graduates

This week, 49 graduates and their families are celebrating the completion of their diploma studies at E3 Power Center City–but the June 28th graduation ceremony is just the beginning for these young Philadelphians.

“I’m not done furthering my education,” said Vaishaun Covington. “I’m going on to the College Success Program, and I want to become a real estate agent.”

“I’m so happy. When they called my name, I almost cried,” said Keara Tucker. “I’m going to go to CCP [Community College of Philadelphia] for two years, then transfer. I’d like to become a nurse.”

Vaishaun and Keara’s dreams aren’t exceptions. They’re the rule for the graduates of E3 (operated by JEVS Human Services)–young adults who were formerly out of school, but found their way back for a chance at a diploma and a better future. Along the way, they impressed their families, their friends, their teachers…and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

“We all have a story, and no one is perfect,” said the Mayor, who delivered the ceremony’s keynote remarks. “You didn’t give up, and I am so proud to be here with all of you.” See his graduation tweet.

It was a sentiment that extended to parents, as well.

“I’m so happy that (Brandon) finished,” said his mother Ivelisse Calo. “You need that diploma to get so many jobs–and now he’s the fourth of my four to complete school, so it’s just a better day going forward for him.”

Others were impressed by the tenacity displayed by the students.

“My daughter (Diamond) was lost a bit in the public school system,” said Johnny Perez. “There were so many distractions, but once she got here–it’s been a different Diamond. She’s never been so focused!”

Diamond agreed. “I wanted to do this for me, my daughter, and my Dad. I’m excited for the future.”

Graduation Day’s events also featured an Inspiration Award, given to John Hashim. As a 14-year-old in the Congo, Hashim lost his entire family to tribal wars, eventually settling in Philadelphia as a refugee. Now 18, Hashim worked five nights a week while attending E3, graduating in mere months, and hopes to learn coding and web development, or to one day become a doctor.

We wish the E3 Class of 2017 all the success in the world. You can view photos of the graduation here!

KYW1060 joined our graduates for this big day. Read about the celebration here.

Why don’t you paint me
Like I am?

Paint me young, black, beautiful,
happy and proud
Paint me with that graduation
cap and gown on.

Paint me with my big forehead,
my dark brown eyes,
And my chubby tummy
Paint me, come on, you see me, right?
Paint me with all the skills you have
Paint me somewhere happy
with my diploma
Somewhere, where I can be ME!
With a big smile on my face
Because I made it.

Paint me without all the chaos in my life
Paint me without my judgments
Paint me without my flaws and problems
Paint me so my downfalls won’t show

Can you see the face
telling you to paint me
with happiness?

Paint me with all the good things
but most of all
Paint me as a graduate!

– Jermiera Finney, E3 Class of 2017

Disability Pride Event an Important Forum for Advocacy and Expression

On June 17, 2017, JEVS clients, participants, staff and volunteers proudly took part in Philadelphia’s Disability Pride. A full week’s worth of activities, Disability Pride events began with a flag-raising, included sign-painting, resource and information gathering, and culminated in a march and festival. According to organizers, Disability Pride seeks to be part of “movement building – accepting and honoring each person’s uniqueness and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity.”

>> See our parade photos here

The activities of Disability Pride are meant to build awareness, and change the way that people think about and define disability; to end shame, and build self-advocacy; and to reinforce that people with disabilities are part of the broader, diverse human community.

To that end, we asked two marchers–and JEVS Human Services program participants–to tell us about the march, in their own words.

“I wanted to march to commemorate and support Disability Pride. I didn’t know what to expect; I had only ever been to a march-style parade when the Phillies won the World Series! I liked that you could walk on the street with no cars, but I really liked that people who might not think about what a disability is every day would be able to understand it. People would see that we live and laugh and love just like everyone else–that we matter and are part of society. I would absolutely march again.” – Jon, 28, member of JEVS’ Philadelphia Independence Network (PIN)

“I marched to support disability rights. It was nice to see that we’re a part of many communities–at PIN, among our peers here, and in the community at large. It helps to raise awareness. In five years’ time, I’d love to see more access–keeping opportunities open to people with disabilities, and to all who need services. That could be employment, health care and more–all the opportunities that allow someone to live life to the fullest.” – Laura, 33, member of JEVS’ Philadelphia Independence Network (PIN)

We appreciate and salute the great marchers, festival participants and attendees, our caring staff and Disability Pride Philadelphia for creating an unforgettable experience and who continue to “make independence happen.”

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