The Youth Employability Fair (YEF) at GLOW & YMLP showcases the very best of the program’s approach to practical non-formal youth education. In all of GLOW & YMLP’s structured programming, our facilitators introduce the elementary principles of a topic or skill and then pull back, enabling campers to spend a majority of their time discussing their opinions on the ideas presented or actively engaging with and practicing new skills. The latter plays a crucial role in our Youth Employability class, a space where campers explore their career interests and develop the basic employability skills: networking, resume and cover letter writing, and interviewing.
With most of GLOW & YMLP’s programming, campers have to wait until after camp to test their newly developed capacities in the real world. This is not the case with our Youth Employability program. The YEF allows campers to meet and network with industry leaders, ranging from sponsors to guests. Not only do campers have an opportunity to actively practice employability skills, but our corporate sponsors directly engage with campers, serving as mentors in their career exploration, and witness the campers passion for the GLOW & YMLP program.
There was a palpable excitement in the air all week at GLOW camp as the future leaders of the country were, perhaps for the first time, able to blossom and explore innovative and progressive ideas with each other through experiential learning. The GLOW girls are, by nature, an ambitious and motivated bunch, and everywhere they turned at camp a new opportunity was waiting to inspire them. The 2019 Youth Employability Fair was no exception.
The second annual fair began with an address from CEO Ioannis Geroulanos of OKTA, a long-time gold-level sponsor of the GLOW and YMLP camps. As the campers situated themselves on the floor of the cafeteria and turned their expectant eyes up toward the speaker, Mr. Geroulanos dropped to the ground himself in his typical, relatable style to address the campers eye-to-eye. It was evident by the number of eager campers who later signed up to attend further break-out sessions with Mr. Geroulanous that his speech about social responsibility, finding one’s passion, and having no fear resonated with and empowered the girls.
After the inspiring preamble from Mr. Geroulanos, campers were ready to take on the next portion of the Youth Employability Fair. In this part of the fair, sponsors and guests promote their organizations in a round-table fashion that allows campers to utilize the skills they practiced throughout the week in their Youth Employability classes. These courageous teenagers fearlessly approached all twelve booths in the cafeteria and engaged with industry leaders in discussions. Not only did this provide an opportunity for campers to become accustomed to promoting themselves in a professional setting, but it also allowed sponsors to observe first-hand how their philanthropy is paying off in an authentic way.
After the round-table portion also with other professionals like Mermeren Kombinat, Alkaloid, Pekabesko, Rotary clubs, and SEGA Coalition, campers attended workshops with camp staff to perfect their personal CVs, elevator speeches, and interview skills. Following the workshops, campers attended two rounds of breakout sessions according to the organizations that most interested them. Although every breakout session had enthusiastic participants, among the most popular was from the SASA representative Veneta Ristovska who, as a former GLOW alumni herself, energized and motivated the girls in a way that allowed them to envision their future selves as successful professionals in the working world.
At YMLP, we kicked things off with a series of professional tables featuring our sponsors and guests, firstly with Mermeren Kombinat. Later, campers were free to rotate around these tables, meet and network with other professionals like OKTA, SASA, TAV Airports, Kromberg&Schubert, AmCham, BrightBox, Cylindo, Rotary clubs, and begin to discover how their professional interests could translate into working for a larger corporation or the civil society sector. Once the conversation died down, we transitioned to our Personal Branding workshop. Utilizing our staff and guests, campers participated in three stations that included: resume writing mentorship, interview practice, and brainstorming questions for our corporate sponsors. During this time, corporate sponsors were given a personalized tour of the campsite and had time to set up for their breakout session. Following the Personal Branding workshop, these breakout sessions began. Each corporate sponsor gave a 20-minute presentation on a topic of their choosing. This presentation was repeated, meaning our sponsors were able to interact with approximately 15 unique campers in intimate and meaningful conversations. For Leonid Sajkov, a camper from Bitola, OKTA’s presentation resonated most with him due [the speaker’s] willingness to share her own professional experience. “I really enjoyed the presentation, especially because she shared her experiences in finding a job, acing interviews, taking opportunities, and all the risks involved,” said Leo. Of course, anyone that follows YMLP’s social media knows a trip to camp must include chants. As we said goodbye to sponsors and guests, our campers showed off their camp spirit and team pride with a booming sendoff.
The YEF’s second year of implementation further indicated the importance of the event and the value it brings to our camp program. Simply put, opportunities to formally explore career opportunities and network with leading professionals are extremely limited in N. Macedonia. We will continue to instill our campers with the professional skills through our Youth Employability class, but developing skills means little if they cannot be practiced. Due to our sponsors and guests interest in helping to mentor and develop the next generation of leaders, this practice is possible. The YEF gets campers excited to demonstrate their employability skills and learn more about themselves and the professional world around them. We look forward to our continued collaboration with sponsors and guests in this scope and future iterations of the GLOW & YMLP YEF.
To conclude the Youth Employability Fair, the future leaders of the country and shining examples of young professionalism became campers once again as they performed their original, and somewhat silly, group songs and dances for the guests to give them a small taste of the camp GLOW spirit. Looking forward, campers will continue to hone their employability skills and remember the essential message of the 2019 Youth Employability Fair: if you work hard, find your passion, and conquer your fears, you will become a successful and integral contributor to society.