This weekend I had a wonderful opportunity to volunteer at an event called “Laid Off Camp” in Chandler, Arizona.
This was the third year my wife and I have helped with Laid Off Camp, and it is one of the most rewarding experiences I have every year.
The purpose of Laid Off Camp is to give those seeking employment a sense of hope, build a professional network with a sense of community, and gain exposure to skills that will help them better themselves in preparation for finding their next career.
With the economy still struggling here in the greater Phoenix area, it is always heartbreaking to see people who are out of work and struggling to make ends meet.
It is emotionally difficult for me to talk to people who have been unemployed for any length of time and see the hurt and dejection on their faces.
It amazes me how one’s sense of self-worth can and oftentimes is tied to a career. Losing one’s job--especially being laid off--can be extremely difficult, because the loss is often not attributable to performance.
I spoke with many people this weekend who had been without work for many months, some for over a year.
The opportunity to connect with other people looking for jobs and being able to empathize with others in the same situation seemed to have a profound effect on people’s morale and outlook for the future.
It was great to see people who came to Laid Off Camp in the morning with slumped shoulders and feelings of despair, leave walking tall and feeling more confident.
The great thing about Laid Off Camp is that it is run completely by volunteers and there is no charge for anyone to attend.
The speakers volunteered their time and expertise, the city of Chandler donated the use of the city council chambers for the day, and two local restaurants provided breakfast and lunch.
A local photographer also took professional headshots for each of the attendees to use on their LinkedIn profiles.
Most of the topics throughout the day pertained to the use of social media in some form.
Most everyone is aware of LinkedIn, and there were sessions that showed how to set up and get the most from your LinkedIn profile.
Twitter was another popular session topic. There are many brands that use their Twitter feeds to post links to job openings, and the social network is quickly becoming another valuable tool for job seekers.
There were also presentations by recruiters who explained what they look for in job candidates, along with a question and answer session discussing how to turn a temporary job assignment into a permanent position.
Other presentations included effective networking techniques, proper resume formatting, and information on starting your own business.
My wife’s and my role throughout the day was to videotape each of the sessions. With her help, we were able to record each of the presentations and I am now in the process of editing and uploading to vimeo.com so that they can be referenced at any time in the future by attendees.
If you’d like to view any of the sessions, feel free to view them here . There are 10 videos from this year’s session and I should have them all uploaded by the end of next week.
If you look at the other channels on my page, you will see the sessions from previous years as well.
If I had to pick one highlight for the day, I would say that it happened when I learned that one of the attendees secured an interview with a volunteer’s company because he had experience in a particular area that the business owner needed. What a wonderful opportunity for him!
If you have some time and get the opportunity to watch any of the videos, please take a few minutes and drop me a quick note and let me know if you learned anything that would be of benefit to you.
As always, please feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you. Have a great weekend!
Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on Twitter at @CDGLA or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.