The first Mock Interviews session at San Jose Obrero Mission (SJOM) came as a surprise to many of the male residents that would be participating that day. I showed up with five volunteers, my curriculum, and approached my excited site representative for the session. After explaining the program to the volunteers, we started the interviews. The first resident I worked with was Michael*, and he did not seem quite as eager as I was.

Michael was hesitant to sit down with me; he said he already had a job and did not need the extra practice. I sat with Michael anyway and talked to him about the importance of honing his interview skills. Michael agreed to humor me, and we worked through one interview together. After the session was over, I shook his hand and provided him with our job coaching packet. As I was getting up, Michael asked if we could go through it again. So, we completed a second interview.

As the project was ending, Michael talked about how I had asked him questions that he is always hesitant to answer. He explained that he now knows what to put on his resume, and what questions are appropriate to ask his interviewer, something he has never done before. We parted ways and I said I would see Michael for his interview next month.

During our Mock Interviews program at SJOM, our volunteers conduct one-on-one interviews with the male residents of the shelter. Currently, there is one staff member that coordinates the job coaching program at both the men’s and women’s center, as well as the other educational opportunities. Because of this, the residents are not always able to get the individual help that would assist with their job searches.

Imelda Rodriguez, our community partner representative, sees that Chicago Cares’ program and volunteers are helping SJOM’s residents gain essential life skills. “Mock Interviews is about practicing how to get better and better. Chicago Cares has been helping us help the homeless population at SJOM. Volunteers are helping [our residents] get the skills so our participants can cross from the unemployed side to the employee one, which means getting a better life style.”

Chicago Cares has numerous adult education programs that include Mock Interviews, ESL tutoring, GED preparation, US Citizenship coaching, and job coaching. These volunteer opportunities provide the students of these programs with the individual attention they need to be successful in their particular class. In US Citizenship Coaching, we review the exam with the students so the participants can not only practice their English, but take away some of the anxiety of taking the exam in hope that they will pass.  In Job Coaching, we provide the residents of the shelter with the tools to write resumes so that they feel confident when turning in job applications. Our adult education programs have the ability to reach clients in numerous community areas of Chicago, but they need your support in order to do this.

A donation of $50 through our I Care campaign can provide the Mock Interview curriculum for an entire year. This donation would engage 72 volunteers and help 120 residents with their job search. Please consider making a donation to Chicago Cares and helping our adult education programs grow.

Visit our I Care campaign to make a donation today. Or click here to fundraise for Chicago Cares.

*name changed for privacy purposes.