In his new book, The Song of Significance: A New Manifesto for Teams, Seth Godin affirms what we at Juma have known for the last 30 years; a job is about more than a paycheck. A job can build confidence and teach real-world skills that are useful inside and outside of the workplace. At Juma, we know that these skills are the foundation on which careers are built.
“‘Soft” skills’, like communication, teamwork and conflict resolution,” Godin argues, “Are given too little respect when we call them ‘soft’ and imply that they’re optional.” Instead, Goodin proposes we start calling “soft skills” real skills. “Real because they work, because they’re at the heart of what we need today. Real because even if you’ve got the vocational skills, you’re no help to us without these human skills, the things that we can’t write down or program a computer to do.”
This is why Juma’s YouthConnect program, in addition to providing young people with the dignity that comes with earning a paycheck, also offers youth a real-life learning laboratory in which to practice their burgeoning real skills. For our young people, Juma is a safe workplace that treats missteps as opportunities for feedback, learning, and growth.
Young people like Jasymn.
“At Juma I’ve learned how to work under pressure and with customers who are difficult,” says Jasymn. “I’ve learned a lot about customer service. I’ve learned to be more patient with myself and customers because sometimes I don’t hear them or they don’t hear me.”
Jasmyn is looking forward to carrying those new skills into her future career. “I want to do real estate, so I feel when I have a client I’m gonna take more time to listen to what they say and think about what they want,” Jasmyn explains. “I’ll be more patient because I’ve learned that that’s the key to success,” she explains.
Over the past 30 years, much of the feedback we’ve heard from Juma Alums focuses on how their time at Juma helped them to build the confidence they needed or to understand the flow of a career and how one position can lead to another or to recognize their own strengths and apply those to their goals. As Godin’s research affirms, a first job and the important learnings that come with it are so much more than just a job. For Juma youth, it’s a bridge to opportunity.