Why I Teamed Up with LinkedIn to Create a Resource for Job-Seekers with a Criminal Record
Going to court while incarcerated is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences; you lie awake throughout the night because the anxiety of the unknown permeates your thoughts. Early in the morning, while the rest of the world is fast asleep, you hear your name through the loud intercom, and the door that has kept you locked away from the world opens up so you can approach your fate. As you walk out of the door, you double your socks because the ankle cuffs that will soon restrain your steps from full stride will inevitably leave you scraped.
Away you go, chained to two other people into a large bus filled with nervous souls clothed in orange. The cuffs and chains rattle so loudly with every twist and turn. Even amid such turmoil, I remember staring at the cars around me- watching ladies finish their makeup while drinking their Starbucks and chatting on their cell phones headed to work. These moments of sitting in traffic allowed me to envision myself one day doing the same.
I will never forget my experience looking for work after returning home from incarceration. During my first interview, I was beyond nervous. After stumbling over a few interview questions, I finally got to one I was sure I would knock out of the park; I was asked, “Why should we hire you?”
I immediately responded, “because I’m hungry.”
They looked at each other, laughed, and walked me out of the room. I never heard from them again.
When I said I was hungry, I didn't mean hungry in the traditional sense - I was hungry to find work and to excel in my new job. I knew I would be the first one there, the last one to leave. I meant I would work the longest, the hardest, and the best because I desperately needed a job.
I knew I would never hear from them again, and while that was disappointing, it was a valuable lesson in understanding how to navigate the job-searching experience. That experience inspired me to create a resource that was approachable and spoke to people that had a shared lived experience as me. That’s why I teamed up with LinkedIn to create a free online video course focused on helping people with past criminal records find work.
I want to ensure that when people are asked, “why should we hire you?” they will know exactly how to respond.