Andrea Leszczynski, Case Manager for the Careers program at Employment and Business Services-Brooklyn, had an article published in Career Convergence, the National Career Development Association’s (NCDA) web magazine.
“It was really unexpected to be published. I wasn’t thinking I’d get a reply back from the editor,” Andrea said. “It was part of a class for certification of career services through NDCA.”
“To have a staff member published academically in such a manner is incredibly exciting!” said Josephine “Josie” Brown, Program Director for the DYCD Train & Earn program. “I wish to see Andrea go far in our agency. She was recently awarded an award titled “Most Earnest” during Brooklyn EBS’s virtual DSP Appreciation event. I bestowed it to her.”
Access to Tech is Key to Success
Andrea’s article, “Assisting Opportunity Youth in Developing a Winning Job Search Strategy in the Age of COVID-19,” focuses on how agencies and employers must adapt their support and hiring methods to assist young people facing unique barriers to employment since the pandemic began. Andrea stresses the need for technological competency and access.
“The hiring process in the industries that tend to employ opportunity youth– retail, food service, janitorial services, and customer service-made significant adjustments,” Andrea writes. “Providing exceptional service in these industries, while leveraging technology, became more important to retain and entice consumers so employers changed their hiring processes to overlook candidates that they do not consider essential to their post-COVID operation…This means opportunity youth must be prepared to engage in professional communication through online platforms such as Zoom and WebEx and monitor email regularly once they submit their online applications. Youth that lack access to these necessary resources and the skills to use them will continuously be passed over for employment, preventing them from obtaining the independence that they desire.”
Andrea said that the people she supports generally have access to technology but require guidance to make better use of it. “Students are tech-savvy with TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram, but send them an email and it’s like ‘What do I do?’ I’m interested in helping them become more professional communicators.”
The article also touches on how to modernize existing funding mechanisms and training programs within the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, passed in 2014. She suggests hosting regular, accessible workshops to teach youth the skills necessary to adapt to the new employment landscape, establishing partnerships with the business community, and ensuring equal opportunity to tech.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way employers do business. Opportunity youth, despite barriers, can find and sustain employment with the right tools and assistance,” Andrea concluded.
Feeling Fulfilled at AHRC NYC
Andrea joined AHRC NYC about two years ago after interning with the agency and with FEDCAP.
“It was a career transition for me. I had worked in valuable cargo and logistics for over a decade,” she explained. “Two years ago I wanted something more meaningful. I was very dedicated to my work and I thought, is this really what I want to do for the rest of my life?”
Andrea loved doing activities such as mock interviews and reviewing resumes, leading her to an interest in EBS’ programs. The connections she makes with the young people she is supporting lead her to go above and beyond for their success, doing things from arranging for professional interview clothes to be purchased from Goodwill to tailoring support specifically for people living in shelters or for young parents.
“It’s the relationships that I’ve built with the participants, beginning with intake and working with them in their follow-up year,” Andrea said. “I like to listen to their lives. I try to establish an element of trust and confidentiality. I find that so important in building those relationships you understand the person and their strengths.”
Her work is not lost on her supervisor. “She continues to be a self-starting, persistent employee that always has the answers to what I’m looking for in our complex program,” Josie said. “Not only is she methodical, but her interpersonal communication skills are stellar, and it shows with the young people we support. She establishes unique relationships with each of them; it’s truly not hard to get wrapped in a pleasant conversation with her.”