Who “Cares” about youth employment and education in Chicago? City Hall and a non-profit

Somewhere between Chicago City Hall and a non-profit on the city’s near west side, a forward-thinking idea was born and 50 youth are reaping its rewards.
One Summer Chicago youth jobs program matched 32,000 opportunities with teens and young adults at 2,000 work sites. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the program is designed to help Chicago’s youth gain experience, mentors and resume strength “for future success.”
He is right.
At the Center For Companies That Care (CTC) work site, 50 youth ages 16 – 21, are learning how to become event planners during a six-week program that pays them to learn the new theory and skills. Through a rigorous and creative curricula that includes daily debriefs, and weekly presentations from different community and corporate speakers, the youth participants gain keen insight on how to plan a large event at Chicago’s Grant Park in 2019.
Marci Koblenz is the founder of CTC, a decade-old nonprofit that partners with companies, schools and now the city of Chicago, to help economically disadvantaged students enter and graduate from college. There is more to CTC that connects to its mission, values and goals. See https://www.companies-that-care.org.
Koblenz had the light bulb moment to start the non-profit when she realized the biggest difference between her upbringing in Ohio and the urban youth of Chicago was their respective zip codes.
“In my zip code … we were expected to go to college and we did,” Koblenz told an audience of high school awardees and high school graduates of her program who were being honored for being accepted to various Midwest and Southern colleges and universities.
“I want you to take off something before you go to college and its the weight that drags you down. That weight that says to you, ‘I am not going to graduate from college,” Koblenz said.
That is why Koblenz, her small staff and working board of directors are motivated to help Chicago’s youth. It is because they know that many of the high schoolers enrolled in the few slots available for pre-college preparedness, would not have a shot at scholarships, internships and mentorships if it were not for CTC.
The summer youth employment program is a first for CTC and a “perfect fit” from Koblenz’s vantage point. It gives the youth a directional path in the vast events management field while paying them to learn the skills needed to plan and execute large public activities like the “5K March to College 2019.” With some 30,000 youth from Chicago high schools and other special guests expected, the CTC annual (except for 2018) March to College event for 2019 is well on its way. The planning portion is what the students have been working on during the program that ends in early August 2018.
I met the students in week four.
Like other pro bono speakers, I shared my niche expertise in event management as I put them through the paces in in a revamped warehouse-like conference room of CTC. As the Community Relations Director for the organizing committee of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and volunteer manager in the NFL’s Super Bowls in Atlanta and President Bill Clinton’s second inaguration, I also brought along ‘show and tell’ items that included an extra Olympic gold medal. (Olympic organizers have to produce multiple first, second and third place medals for athletes in case there is a tie. The so-called overstock is either sold for a modest fee or offered as a freebie to the Olympics organizers).
During my hours-long time on West Van Buren Street in the large room with walls of brick and interactive white boards, I was became impressed with the students’ role playing through two mock press conferences and problem-solving through case studies from the Olympic Games.
The students who are motivated to consider careers in special events planning, management and production, are ready to do so. They caught on quickly as they were learning events operations, marketing, sales, communication, risk management and many more areas.
Hint, hint to the thousands of event supervisors across the nation and world: You have a wonderful group to select from in this cohort of CTC summer youth trained and future event leaders.

(Photograph, clockwise from top: Center For Companies That Care Board Chairman Darrin Greene and his high school mentee at Applus Technologies, Inc., where Greene is the CEO and Country Manager US; Summer Youth program participants during mock press conference; Marci Konlenz. CTC founder. Greene and his mentees brother and mother. I chose to omit names as permission was only provided by Mom for photo usage)

Ann L. Wead Kimbrough is an accomplished educator, award-winning financial journalist, author, special events leader, mentor and prolific contributor to select global and domestic non-profit causes. Her blog topics include travel, history, humor, education, career, family, journalism and ‘thought you should know’ subjects. https://www.linkedin.com/in/annlineve

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No college education? No problem with some jobs that pay over $100K

The headline on this blog is one that goes against everything in my typical college professor-based advice to my mentees who are seeking high paying and fulfilling career employment. In short, I tell them to stay in school and get their college degrees because it will result in big paydays. For the college graduates, I recommend they always include their educational accomplishments on their resumes and CVs.

Yet, I am always open to learning new things about the changing job marketplace, and I am willing to change my beliefs and perspectives when provided with solid evidence and other data.
job ad with no ed required

I came to this new-knowledge after checking out job sites with my
mentees who are looking for meaningful jobs to further their career plans. These mentees range from new college graduates to those with three years and more of professional work experience.

The job pasted in below is from one of my favorite employment websites, “Daybook.” What caught my attention was the public relations position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The applicants do not need to represent a traditional university or college degree to qualify for the job.

Stay with me and study all of the details of this ad. Wade through this job listing until you reach the item in bold: The educational requirement. After that notification, I will tell you why this listing includes the seemingly unique educational requirement.

Position Details
Public Affairs Specialist


Foreign Agricultural Service


Open & closing dates

07/19/2018 to 07/25/2018


$114,590 to $148,967 per year


This position is located in Public Affairs and Executive Correspondence, Office of the Administrator, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). The work of the office is essential to the success of the FAS mission of expanding exports of U.S. agricultural products and promoting world food security. If selected, you would serve as Digital Media Manager. In that role, you would manage and direct the development and implementation of all web content and digital media content related to the work of the public affairs and executive correspondence unit.

Salary Information: First time hires to the Federal government normally start at the lowest rate of the salary range for the grade selected.

Learn more about this agency


The duties may include, but are not limited to:

Web Development and Management

Develop, recommend, and implement strategies, policies, and procedures to manage the content of the agency’s web-based products.

Ensure that all relevant laws, regulations, and guidelines are incorporated in agency policies and procedures.

Consult with executives and managers to analyze their needs and propose ways to use the web to support their programs, projects and initiatives.

Social Media

Plan, direct, and implement social media strategy, coordinating with stakeholders across the agency.

Liaise with external organizations, including industry cooperators and food assistance implementing partners, to develop joint strategies for sharing information and successes via social media channels.

Plan, manage, and execute social media campaigns.

Data Visualization and Digital Product Development

Remain abreast of latest developments in data visualization and make recommendations to management on the adoption of new tools and methods for graphically displaying statistical data and other information.

Utilize graphic design skills to create infographics, interactive charts and graphs to be used on the agency’s website and via social media channels.

Marketing, Outreach, and Customer Service

Identify opportunities to promote the agency’s web products to all appropriate audiences (citizens, business partners, employees).

Train agency staff to use web and social media products.

Deliver presentations and trainings on digital media best practices and developments to external audiences, both national and international.

Travel Required

Occasional travel – Domestic and foreign travel required.

Supervisory status


Promotion Potential


Who May Apply

This job is open to…

Permanent USDA agency employees; CTAP/RPL/ICTAP eligibles; reinstatement eligibles; 30% or more disabled veterans; Individuals with Disabilities; former Peace Corps or VISTA volunteers; and those eligible for other Special Hiring Authorities.

Questions? This job is open to 5 groups.

Job family (Series)

1035 Public Affairs




Conditions of Employment

US Citizenship is required

Selective Service Registration is required for males born after 12/31/1959

Special Conditions:

Selection and retention in this position is contingent on a successfully adjudicated FBI National Criminal History Check (fingerprint check) and a background investigation.

Successful completion of a one-year probationary or trial period (if new hire to the Federal service).

Selectee must be able to obtain and maintain a Secret security clearance.

This position may be eligible for telework within the local commuting area of the duty location of the position. Employee participation in telework is at the discretion of the supervisor.


Applicants must meet all qualifications and eligibility requirements by the closing date of the announcement including time-in-grade restrictions, specialized experience as defined below, etc.

TIME IN GRADE: Federal employees must meet time-in-grade requirements by the closing date of this announcement.

FOR THE GS-14 LEVEL: Applicants must have one year of specialized experience (equivalent to the GS-13 level) that demonstrates:

Specialized Experiences:

Experience working with current and emerging digital communications strategies and technologies;

Experience planning, organizing, and executing the delivery of information and services via the web and social and digital media channels, including applying principles such as 508 accessibility and plain language requirements for digital media related to public affairs;

Experience developing websites using multiple development languages such as JAVA Scripting, ASP, PHP and HTML and utilizing a broad array of social media platforms (including Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr) to support public affairs and communications efforts;

Experience implementing graphic design skills to create infographics, interactive charts and graphs, and other tools for website and social media channels; and

Experience with written and oral communion methods and techniques related to public affairs communication and delivering presentations and training.

There is no education substitution for this grade level.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.


This position does not possess an education qualification requirement.

“It (education reference) is likely targeted to veterans who have advanced military education and other experience,” said Erik Winkfield, a public relations manager at Pepco, a D.C. public utility owned by Exelon.

He and his colleagues in the federal government sector often converse about such job ads. Bridget Sherchak, PR Director for Voice of America, has rarely seen such job listings that advertise vague educational requirements. Sherchak was formerly a federal government employee for a major agency and she possesses several years of hiring experience.

Like the job featured atop this blog, there are all types of “education” one may include in their applications such as digital badges, certificates and advanced military training. Go for it, veterans and others who do not fit in the traditional, university-educated categories for work opportunities and have great experiences and knowledge from a wide range of institutions.

Ann L. Wead Kimbrough is an accomplished educator, award-winning financial journalist, author, special events leader, mentor and prolific contributor to select global and domestic non-profit causes. Her blog topics include travel, history, humor, education, career, family, journalism and ‘thought you should know’ subjects. https://www.linkedin.com/in/annlineve

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Need a job? Try the low-hanging “fruit.” Job seekers apply here …

Here’s a well-known secret: The best jobs are found on the websites of professional associations. If you are still looking for work, check out the professional associations in the field(s) of your intended career. It’s the low-hanging fruit for your labors.

For example, if your major was journalism, communications, graphic communication, publishing, documentary or digital journalism, check out the Society of Professional Journalists’ website. Currently, I live and work in Region 5 and here’s what I found by reading news highlights:

1. The weekly newspaper Planet Jackson Hole in Jackson, Wyoming, is looking for a Staff Reporter to join its “small but scrappy newsroom.” The publication is looking for a versatile journalist who can report on multiple beats.

2. The Northwest Signal, a daily newspaper in Napoleon, Ohio, is searching for an energetic sports writer who is eager to grow and develop within the sports department.

3. The Free Press in Kinston, (correct spelling) North Carolina, seeks an experienced multimedia reporter willing to jump head-first into delivering breaking and developing news in the community.

For my job seekers who may be a part of the “non-believers” that there are thousands of job opportunities for you, or for parents and other loved ones of those recent grads and perpetual career changers, here is my sample “proof in the pudding” listing of professional associations that allow anyone to browse for work … at zero cost:


(All fields searchable by job type, location, etc.) searchhttps://workforcenow.adp.com/mascsr/default/mdf/recruitment/recruitment.html?cid=94c49b92-4ebf-4202-bd27-7c12598fc8c4&ccId=19000101_000001&type=MP&lang=en_US

Ann L. Wead Kimbrough is an accomplished educator, award-winning financial journalist, author, special events leader, mentor and prolific contributor to select global and domestic non-profit causes. Her blog topics include travel, history, humor, education, career, family, journalism and ‘thought you should know’ subjects. https://www.linkedin.com/in/annlineve/

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Discouraged job seekers: Start here

https://goo.gl/images/CvV9Hd. Are you sitting at home in front of your computer searching for jobs to fit your current career goals? Are you like one of my mentees who just told me that she cannot find a job where she is located? Or are you like another mentee who is networking and has lined up potentially two jobs while finishing his graduate degree?

I ask my mentees to remain strategic in their job searches. I offer a bunch of other job hunting tips that are rapidly forgotten. Layely, I am sensing a collective, heightened anxiety haze coming over some folk who are going around in circles to locate job possibilities, fix their resumes, start or improve personal websites and prep for the first round of interviews. Today, I am focusing on helping the almost discouraged job seeker in my career fields.

Here’s my top FREE and proven effective job sites for communications (digital media, PR, education) folk:

First pick is Careers.journalists.org, the free job site of the Online News Association. This free offering is my favorite source for entry-level to career professional quality jobs in digital media, public relations and affairs, higher education and other related communications areas. I recommend joining this association. It is best to join if you are still a student because your $25 annual fee is “Open to high school, college and university students, including undergraduate, graduate and associate degree students, with an interest in journalism produced for digital distribution. (Graduate students who are employed full time and students in certificate programs are not eligible to be Student Members.)”- ONA.

Next pick: careers.poynter.org. It is the free site of the journalism industry’s career prep and training. When I taught a course for senior students in college, I listed several free or low cost poynter.org courses for them to utilize to sharpen their skills. What’s also great about this site are the categories of jobs to aid the career seekers:
PR & Advertising
Graphic Design
Online Marketing
Sales – General
Media & Broadcasting
Web, Graphics & UI
Application Development
Media Technology

Final pick: Your college or university’s career website that pertains to your major. For instance, as a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, I have a free career source for life. I have never used the career site because my graduate 🎓 degree from Medill has been more than enough to open doors and opportunities during my blessed career journey. If your school does not have a current and relevant job site for you, then seek help from other universities and colleges. Some are open to getting every graduate or career professional gainfully employed.

Also, there are many professional association conferences that boast of on-site job fairs. You usually have to 💰 to attend the conferences, this the free search is not in play. Ceck those associations’ sites for potential hints at which employers are attending the conference and then check those websites.

The point is to find free job sites that are also linked to your current career choice(s). There is no excuse for anyone to remain at home and grumble or express panic because you cannot find your best job. You may have to relocate to the new job. Yet, first things first: Locate your top 10 job possibilities. My next post will provide you with tips on how to effectively read job postings so that your resume and experience lines up with to get you noticed by your future employer.

Ann L. Wead Kimbrough is an accomplished educator, award-winning financial journalist, author, special events leader, mentor and prolific contributor to select global and domestic non-profit causes. Her blog topics include travel, history, humor, education, career, family, journalism and ‘thought you should know’ subjects. https://www.linkedin.com/in/annlineve/

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