Telstra volunteers with First Step job training program to mentor homeless and low-income women

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International Women’s Day (March 8) is a moment in the year that encourages women to motivate each other, look back on all of our accomplishments, and gives us time to think of what we want to achieve as women in the future. It’s also a time when we (along with our allies) can get involved to praise women and help lift them up in social, political, cultural, and workplace settings. We recently did just that at Telstra, and it was so much fun – and rewarding! 

A couple of weeks ago, I enlisted a group of Telstra employees to volunteer with New York’s Coalition for the Homeless’ First Step job training program. Roughly 70 percent of those living in New York City shelters are homeless and low-income families — and mostly single mothers and their children. This program helps participants gain the skills, experience and confidence needed to find living-wage jobs.  

Telstra has worked with the Coalition for the Homeless and First Step over the years on a range of programs and projects, including the First Step internship program, clothing drives, First Step’s “Women Mean Business” luncheon, and, of course, mentoring programs. This particular volunteer opportunity was a part of Telstra’s activities this year surrounding International Women’s Day (as well as the company’s ongoing diversity and inclusion and community activism initiatives, which I’m a big supporter of and an active member of). 

This time, about a dozen participants in the First Step program joined us for a job training event, which included virtual one-on-one coaching sessions covering how to create a stellar LinkedIn profile as well as how to pitch a promotion for yourself in 60 seconds or less. We also conducted mock interviews. All of this was done with the goal of boosting t confidence and equipping participants with the tools to go after their dream job.

This year’s event resulted in several positive exchanges between our Telstra volunteers and the 11 First Step students who participated. One of the students praised Roy Lundgren, an account management senior specialist in our New York office, for teaching her how to turn weaknesses into a conversation about strengths during the mock interviews. Another student said that she had no idea it was possible to do so much on LinkedIn, and that she was excited to use what she learned to improve her profile. 

The result, as it always is with the bright and determined students of First Step, was a joyful success. The students gleaned valuable information and insight from our mentors, contact information was exchanged so people could continue their conversations and coaching after the session, and everyone left with feelings of accomplishment and hope. 

The most gratifying part of our relationship with First Step is seeing the results first-hand and knowing we are helping to make a difference in people’s lives. For example, last year’s event featured a special guest and graduate of First Step who attended the program while she and her son were living in shelters. She shared how the First Step program gave her the skills and confidence she needed to change careers and succeed. She’s now employed and has her own place. 

I’m really looking forward to seeing the amazing things that the women from this year’s event achieve in 2021, and it makes me think about how we’re all “better together” (one of Telstra’s core values) when we help each other shine in the workforce and beyond.