Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pathways Prepares Youths for World of Work

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pathways Prepares Youths for World of Work

Article excerpt

A year or so ago, 18-year-old Keierra Walker was uncertain about what to do with her life.

Today, not only does she have a better sense of the career she wants, but she's excited about the future. She's working two part- time jobs and later this month will start at Point Park University, where she plans to double major in dance and broadcast reporting.

Ms. Walker is among 20 participants in Familylinks BNY Mellon Pathways, a workforce readiness program based in Shadyside. The program is funded annually by a $50,000 grant from BNY Mellon to help at-risk youths, ages 16-21, develop the skills they need to become successfully employed.

Participants are or have been involved in out-of-home placements - such as foster care, group homes and supportive independent living - under the auspices of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Office of Children, Youth and Families, Pathways manager Kelly Dillard said.

"I learned a lot in the program, especially from the mentoring," said Ms. Walker, who lives in Pittsburgh's Friendship neighborhood. "It gave me guidance and helped me to identify my strengths. The events they have are fun, too."

On Wednesday, she and other Pathways participants will get the chance to showcase what they've learned during "Work the Runway," a job fair and fashion show from 2 to 5 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Monroeville. They'll walk the runway modeling interview-appropriate attire from Old Navy and H&M.

The event, hosted by Pathways, is not open to the public. Ms. Dillard said it's designed for program participants, but youths and staff of many other CYF-affiliated agencies, which provide similar services, have been invited.

"We want to give this group of young people the opportunity to network with local employers in the hopes of securing gainful employment," she said.

Ms. Dillard, of Penn Hills, said at least 100 audience members and some 20 employers are expected.

The fashion show aims to teach youths in the audience what is and is not appropriate for an interview.

"I've seen some pretty interesting interview attire in my days: Too much cleavage, skirts too short, heels too high, nails too neon pink, or sagging pants, baseball caps and basketball shoes. Unfortunately, youths don't know that those are inappropriate," Ms. Dillard said.

All "models" will get to keep their outfits, valued around $75.

Following the fashion show, guest panelists will ask the models interview questions in front of the audience. Everything is scripted so that audience members get samplings of appropriate responses, Ms. Dillard said.

Panelists will include Frederick A. Massey Jr., CEO of Familylinks; Tony Drane, chief operating officer of Familylinks; and Chris Posti, president of Posti Associates Inc. …

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