Preparing individuals with career-oriented skills to sustain themselves economically, the organization Harlem Congregations for Community Involvement, a group dedicated to the revitalization of Harlem, teamed with Moody’s Analytics, a credit risk-management company, last month, to host Career Day for the nearby Harlem neighborhood.
The day began at 9:30 a.m. at the HCCI office, 2854 Frederick Douglass Blvd., as business professionals and members of the local community congregated for breakfast before the eventful afternoon. Among the individuals greeting community members was Glenda Blakely, a career development specialist with a teaching and mentoring background at Borough of Manhattan Community College and LIM College.
“I volunteer quite extensively with workforce development programs, and because of that work, I have been invited to speak today,” stated Blakely when asked about her involvement in the event.
Blakely explained that she advises individuals seeking help with finding or sustaining careers.
“I really do try to help people dispel all the myths,” she said. “People come to me and say, ‘I can’t get a job.’ Then I’ll explain, ‘Here’s what’s the problem is with your resume, your email is outdated and you can’t be found on social media.’”
Throughout the evening, Blakely stressed the importance of being connected online because of the widespread use of digital communications.
HCCI called on a mixed panel of experts from various backgrounds to speak on their experience in career development and to offer advice for success in professional fields. The panelists included Mihoko Manabe, chartered financial analyst and senior vice president of Moody’s Investors Service; Johnathan Joseph, recruiter for Upper Manhattan Workforce1 Career Center; Glenda Blakely; and Dawn Miller, human resources director of HCCI. From tips about interviewing to the bare bones of resume work, the professionals gave their perspective about what makes a great candidate for their companies. Led by Miller, the panelists conducted mock interviews with the attendees, demonstrating appropriate conduct.
The event concluded with a session for resume reviews in which attendees could have their resumes critiqued by the panelists. Although the desired field differed from person to person, the review gave visitors some general knowledge of the application process.
After the event, visitors expressed similar sentiments of appreciation and satisfaction.
Akua Afwiering, a participant from outside of the Harlem area, had learned about the event from her mentor.
“My mentor sent me the email,” Afwiering said. “I am currently unemployed, because I took some time off. I’m just looking for tips to sell myself basically. Whether it’s through pitching myself or adding to my resume, I’m just learning about what the culture is right now for looking for a job.”
When asked about the most insightful tip given by the event, Afwiering responded with one word: LinkedIn.
“I’m on LinkedIn currently, and so I guess I never really reached to a HR person for a job,” she said. “I think partly because I was at my last job for so long—for 13 years. And now, I’m getting back out there. I’m learning about the dos and don’ts.”
Malcolm A. Punter, interim president/chief executive officer of HCCI, spoke about his background with the company and its past initiatives.
“I myself started working with HCCI as a consultant in 2004,” he said. “I was asked to evaluate their housing program, their affordable housing program, that targeted low-income families. The objective, specifically, was to evaluate and make sure they were implementing the housing program according to federal and state rules.
“I was also a part of the team that trained 300 area residents to prepare for interviews, and resumes, in hope to be hired at the Pathmark stores. And many of them worked there for 10 years.”
Punter also responded to questions concerning more of HCCI’s events involving the community.
“We’re always looking to engage the community through community members,” he said. ‘We have community improvement meetings once a month, every month, where members can voice their concerns. There, we pull in local agencies to participate in those meetings. New York Police Department or the Fire Department. Basically, essential services that members should be getting at a high-quality level, and they talk with the supervisors and managers of those departments.”
Punter concluded with his aspirations for HCCI and what he hoped to accomplish in his current executive position.
“As the HCCI interim president/CEO, I’m looking at how to reorganize the organization, because after 30 years, we’ve learned what we do successfully and what we need to do to go forward,” Punter said. “So, we’re looking at how to touch the economic health of the community. We’re now rolling out financial literacy programs with area universities and colleges. We’re training people for certifications and we are also hiring.”
Aiding the entire Harlem community through various initiatives, HCCI is working to economically, socially and mentally revive and sustain the area. With the support of $240 million through federal, state and city dollars, HCCI has been able to provide more than 3,000 units of housing, facilitate adult education programs and provide health-care accessibility. Punter and HCCI community are looking forward to another 30 years of success as they continue to give Harlem the support it needs.