A number of great cities have hosted Workday Rising, including Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and now this year, Orlando. And in recent years, we’ve provided a way for conference attendees to give back to the local community, rooted in one mission: to help create economic opportunity for all.
If you’re joining us in Orlando, you’ll have several opportunities to give back by participating in a 45-minute mock interview workshop with a job seeker.
We’ve had great success with similar programs in the past. At Workday Rising in Las Vegas last year, conference attendees conducted mock interviews with 70 job seekers from two local workforce development organizations.
Conference attendees may wonder how much impact these get-togethers really have on job seekers. I have an inspiring story to share about the impact our volunteers can have, just by participating in a brief workshop at Workday Rising.
Last year, Diane Kim, senior executive assistant at Workday, met David Arroyo, a job seeker from Tech Impact. What initially started as a mock interview on the expo floor evolved into a lasting mentor-mentee relationship, one that ultimately helped David find a life-changing career in technology. Read on to learn more about their experience in this Q&A we conducted with David and Diane.
David, tell us a little bit about your background.
David: I’m from Las Vegas, Nevada. When I was finishing high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I thought of going into the Air Force, but I didn’t want to leave my family. The thought of a traditional four-year university was daunting, especially because of the financial investment. I’ve always been interested in technology, and wanted to figure out a way to get my foot in the door.
My mom works as a sales clerk at the welcome store at the Las Vegas airport, and her boss told her about the ITWorks class at Tech Impact, a program that helps prepare young adults for entry-level IT careers without a need for a traditional four-year degree.
As part of the ITWorks program, we were invited to Workday Rising to help practice our interview skills. I’d been working in construction since I was 16 years old, so I never really had an opportunity to practice interviewing before. Truth be told, I wasn’t really confident in my interviewing skills, so this was an incredible opportunity.
Diane, what was your first impression of David when you first met at Workday Rising?
Diane: You could tell that he really wanted to be there, and that he took this mock interview session very seriously. David was so polished, mature, smart, and driven. He was working, volunteering with his church, and finishing up a tech training program—and you could tell he was excited for the next step in his career. You could see in his eyes that he was just so thankful to be given the opportunity to be at Workday Rising, and so thankful to have someone to practice interviewing with.
From my own personal experience, I know how helpful it can be to practice interviewing with someone before the real thing. It felt good to know that I could be there to serve as a coach and help build his confidence. I walked away from the volunteer experience thinking, “I really hope he’ll find something. I know he will find something.” We all know the job market can be tough, and I really wanted to see him succeed.
David, how did Diane help you in the job search?
David: I remember being nervous going into the mock interview, but when I first met Diane I could tell she was really friendly. She also wasn’t afraid to give constructive criticism. As we went through the mock interview and when it came time to give me feedback, Diane was open and honest about where I needed to improve, which was really helpful. We left Workday Rising, and the last thing I expected happened: Diane emailed me with a reassuring message—she saw my potential.
Diane: David left such an impression on me, and I really wanted to let him know how special he was. I emailed him and said, “I was one of your mock interview partners at Workday Rising. I want you to know that I was so incredibly impressed by you, and I really believe you’re going to make great things happen. Stay focused and driven, and you can do whatever you want in life. It was such a pleasure to meet you, and let’s stay connected.”
So, you both kept in touch over the course of a few months. What happened next?
David: After graduating from the ITWorks program, I was unemployed for five months. I was applying to jobs but wasn’t hearing back. Honestly, I was getting discouraged, and there were times when I thought to myself, maybe I should just go back to construction. But I held onto what Diane had told me about my potential and decided to keep in touch with her. She helped me update my resume, gave me suggestions to improve my LinkedIn profile, and she gave me the confidence that I needed to keep persevering in the job search.
Diane: I knew that if he could make it to an in-person interview, he would get hired. It was the hump of getting over the resume screening process. Even though David didn’t have a four-year degree, I was so confident that he would immediately land a job in IT once a potential employer actually met him.
And then came the big day. You got an in-person interview for an IT support role. Tell us about that experience.
David: I interviewed on a Thursday with RTC Technology, a small Las Vegas tech company. I interviewed with the owner and his wife, and while I was nervous, I thought it went well. I tried to remember everything I’d learned from Diane. Come Tuesday, they offered me the job.
When I received my offer letter, I almost wanted to cry. It was such a turning point in my life—and to know that I had a starting point in a career and not just a job felt so good. I messaged Diane to let her know that I’d finally found an entry-level IT job.
Diane: I was so happy for him. David earned and deserved to get that job, and it’s a testament to his talent and potential. I was really touched when he told me that when he wasn’t getting calls he remembered I said, “If you can meet them in person, you will impress them.” And that’s exactly what he did.
Why is it important that we look beyond a resume when hiring talent? What do nontraditional candidates bring to the table?
David: On paper, everything is always going to look nice for a college graduate. But sometimes, the nontraditional candidates are actually bringing more to the table when it comes to problem solving, resilience, and work ethic. A resume can list a degree, but that doesn’t mean that candidate has the drive and the life skills to solve tough problems. It’s important to look at the whole person: life skills, work ethic, willingness to learn, and personality. People with nontraditional backgrounds are moldable, and they’re willing to learn.
Diane: I saw a little bit of myself in David. I didn’t have a traditional career path into technology either, and I don’t have the traditional four-year degree. I had people who took a chance on me, saw my potential, and realized the value I could bring to an organization. It’s important that hiring managers look beyond the degree and see the person for who they are.
Why is it important that we give back at Workday Rising?
Diane: I’m a huge advocate for giving back your time to the community. Part of it is gratitude and knowing that you have a job you love going to every day. If you can help someone else find a job that they love, or help someone else get one step further in their career, then you should do it.
At Workday, we know that talent is everywhere but opportunity is not. As part of Opportunity Onramps®, we’re continuing to invite Workday customers and partners to join the movement to help break down barriers to employment that nontraditional candidates from diverse backgrounds tend to face.
Another way you can participate is by reviewing and providing feedback on job seekers’ resumes at the Opportunity Onramps booth in the Culture Zone in the Workday Experience and Expo. Those resumes will come to us through a partnership with Npower, an organization that helps veterans and young adults from underserved communities launch digital careers, and Up Orlando, an organization serving those in poverty.
As we gear up for Workday Rising, let’s all take a moment to think about why people come together. We do this to solve tough problems, make connections, gain inspiration, and learn from one another. We do this not just to improve ourselves, our organizations, and our companies, but also to give back and support the communities in which we live and work.
I’d like to ask you to reflect on how your career started. Was there someone that helped you practice for your first corporate interview? Was there a person that believed in you from the start? Someone who took a chance on you?
Together, we can help others overcome barriers to meaningful employment. Together, we can create economic opportunity for all.
Main photo: Job seekers who participated in a workshop at Workday Rising in 2017.