Even If You Only Help One Person

He is an 8 year Army Airborne veteran with 145 jumps and received four promotions.

Immediately after being discharged he started his modest culinary career learning multiple cooking styles, trained other cooks and now currently works manning an action station in the middle of the dining room taking orders directly from the customers.

He’s a team player, customer focused and willing to help others. Just the kind of person any company should want to hire.

I’ve had a long standing relationship with a culinary school in New York City as an adjunct instructor for their hospitality program.

Spending time with these students is extremely rewarding, especially when they share their hopes and dreams of why they wish to enter the challenging hospitality industry.

Recently I taught a four day program of professional development for this class with the topics of resume building, cover letters, building a 30 second elevator pitch, job searching and interviewing skills, all in the hopes of helping them to land their first/next job.

Due to various reasons, on one of these days, only one student arrived for class. Frankly, my first reaction was frustration;

“How am I expected to teach only 1 student?”

I thought this was going to be a waste of time but boy was I wrong!

As I sat down with this Army veteran to plot out a series of steps in the hopes of turning his resume into an “action-packed” and powerful representation of his skills and experience I realised there was more to this man than many would recognise.

In discussing his past work history before he enrolled in this school I learned that he also had experience in warehouse management leading a team of over 20 people.

He is a student of many cultures with experience gained from his travels. With a love of current events, a keen eye for detail and the willingness to be coached he fed me the snippets of information I needed; I now had much to work with as his resume took shape.

We focused on the leadership skills and “can-do” attitude learned during his military career, his ability to teach others and supervise a diverse group of employees.

His customer service skills were the next to be focused on. The love of his new-found cooking career was evident in many of the words and phrases we easily put onto paper.

His professional summary and experience now jumped off the page.

As I read his new resume out loud I noticed a sheepish smile come over his face; almost one of embarrassment. “What’s wrong”, I asked him.

“You’re making me out to be some Superman now”, he said.

“I would hire me in a minute”, came next.

I countered with, “You are Superman, and I’m just letting others know about the skills and attributes you will bring to your next employer. Every word on this page is true and you should be proud of your background and accomplishments.”

He laughed and said, “Now my girlfriend’s gonna want me to fix HER resume”.

Now it was my turn to laugh…

We then developed a sample cover letter and variations of a 30 second elevator pitch that can also be used as the answer to the “tell me about yourself” question which usually starts off most interviews.

He still has some time before he graduates this class but is well on the road to his next interview and the start of a better job.

As the class day ended and we shook hands his genuine appreciation for the day was clearly evident.

He was grateful for the work we completed and knew this was a great additional step in his professional development towards continuing his culinary and hospitality career. He left with a smile.

I had a smile too. It’s a great feeling when you help someone realise they are more than even they realise.

We all have hidden skills and sometimes we need a little help bringing that to the surface for others to see.

The day started with low expectations and disappointment.

Hope sometimes appears in the one lone person who does show up. He/she deserves our best. It’s our time to shine and to do so through the development of others.

Let’s don’t try to save the world all at once my friends. Start small and one day at a time, even if you only help 1 person.

This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Steve Digioia

Published On: 15th Aug 2017 - Last modified: 6th Feb 2019
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