On International Women’s Day, Convent of Mercy, ‘Alpha’, hosted Career Day for 250 eager-minded grade-nine students. The Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC) team members, along with our In-School Productivity Campaign partners, LASCO Distributors, were on hand to talk with the young women.
An all-girls’ school hosting Career Day on International Women’s Day was not a coincidence. The students were reminded that in days gone by, women were not expected to have a career.
Our only roles were mothers, wives, and homemakers, but we have made many strides since then, and continue to make strides towards gender equality and breaking many traditional barriers.
Students came dressed as their career aspirants and were ecstatic to listen to accomplished professionals in diverse fields: police officers, toxicologist, broadcast journalist, and real estate agent, just to name a few. We asked students what characteristics they needed to successfully ‘land’ their dream job and keep it, and that was where there was a lull. Almost every student knew exactly what they wanted to be, but the only thing they seemed aware of needing were academic requirements. They believed that having the ‘subjects and grades’ would be sufficient to get them their dream job.
We took the opportunity to share with our students that beyond the books, there were other qualities that recruiters looked for in a potential employee. As students, it is their responsibility to make productive use of their time towards acquiring these invaluable assets:
1. Leadership skills.
2. Ability to be a contributing member of a team (teamwork).
3. Be respectful and disciplined.
4. Good communication skills: ability to express self by speaking and writing. Communication skills are not complete without being able to listen attentively and with understanding.
5. Good public image/self- brand.
We spent some time talking about the importance of a good public image and that companies conducted background checks to ascertain the character of the person who they would potentially be aligning with their company brand. Background checks range from physical checks in the communities where persons grew up, to scouring of social media pages. Students were asked, if they were to apply to their dream job at this very moment and getting the job was dependent on what their teachers, members of the community, taxi drivers and persons on their Facebook, Instagram and Snap pages had to say about them, would they get the job?
The opinions of others who have extensively interacted with us contribute to our brand.
We left them with a challenge. Students were charged with envisioning the brand they wanted for themselves; several students were invited to the lectern to articulate what their brand would look like. They were then challenged to ensure that the way they dressed, the way they spoke and how they operated every day would work together to make the brand they dreamt of.
#PressForProgress, the theme for International Women’s Day 2018 became a personal mantra for our young ladies evolving in our women of tomorrow.
The Mommy & Me Foundation’s annual Youth Empowerment Session (YES) was another stop for the Jamaica Productivity Centre on International Women’s Day. The foundation is a charitable, social intervention group for teen mothers led by Camelia Carter.
Tamar Nelson, senior director at Jamaica Productivity Centre and Sebrina Palmer of the UWI and founder of Pink Conversations collaborated to motivate the teens by creating vision boards, which they enthusiastically shared. The young ladies left the session energised.
Throughout the day, other presenters from diverse industries volunteered their time and talents to impart knowledge and teach skills to 75 participants, inclusive of teachers, high-school students, teens from the surrounding communities and teen mothers from the Women’s Centre.
The all-day session was supported and sponsored by Windalco, USAID Comett II, HEART Trust/NTA Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Social Development Commission, Juici Patties and a host of others. Participating schools included Guy’s Hill High, Ewarton High, Dinthill Technical High, Moneague College – Linstead Campus, and the Spanish Town Women’s Centre.