Making an impact through engagement:
Corporate volunteering activities of our employees
DZ BANK supports the engagement of its employees in charitable activities through various campaigns. For example, we have been cooperating with the JOBLINGE initiative since 2013. This program helps young people from difficult backgrounds to find their way into the world of work.
A helping hand into the world of work
“I was number two in Wiesbaden,” says Walter Syndikus proudly. He is a communications officer in the Structured Finance division of DZ BANK and first heard about JOBLINGE in an appeal by the HR department. The initiative uses a combination of practical skills training and voluntary mentoring in order to help young people enter the world of work.
“The new JOBLINGE office in Wiesbaden had just opened and was looking for mentors. I thought the concept was great and I also live very close by, so I got in touch.” The young people who are supported by JOBLINGE are usually introduced to the program through the local job center. In most cases, their attempts to break into the job market have failed or they have not even tried to do so. The reasons vary. “Some do not know what they want to do or how to approach finding a job. Others might have been rejected several times already because their grades are poor,” Syndikus explains. Social problems or a difficult family background often create further complications. Many of these young people thus have gaps in their CV, sometimes spanning several years.
This is exactly where JOBLINGE comes in. For young people who do not look very promising on paper, the right personal demeanor and motivation are key. The program therefore starts with charitable project work, for example in a kindergarten or nursing home. “The focus here is not on whether the young people show particularly good skills,” says Duygu Pfaffmann, the lead coordinator for mentees and mentors at JOBLINGE. “This stage is about finding out who is motivated. If you roll up your sleeves and get on with the job, we are happy to have you.” This is important to JOBLINGE, because the initiative cooperates with a variety of companies that see these young professionals as a part of their future. Mentees spend six months on the program. During this time, the young participants attend foundation workshops that tackle skills such as German and math for recruitment tests and as well as how to apply for jobs. There are also opportunities for the young people to learn more about a variety of professions and companies. In addition, they have regular meetings with their assigned mentor. The aim is for the young participants to undertake work placements and then secure an apprenticeship.
Syndikus now supports Bilal, his sixth mentee. After leaving school, the 20-year-old started a degree in mechanical engineering, but he didn’t enjoy the course and gave it up. Without a plan B up his sleeve, he found occasional casual work. “Friends recommended JOBLINGE to me, so I got in touch,” he says. Bilal quickly got a clearer idea of what he wanted to do. “No manual work for me,” he says, laughing. “I wanted to work in an office – in a commercial role or maybe in IT.” The application skills training provided by JOBLINGE quickly helped him. “I was invited for several interviews and assessment centers.” Bilal and Walter Syndikus had only met up a few times when Bilal secured a place on a training program. “I am going to become a qualified IT systems support specialist,” he says proudly. His training will start in August and his time in the JOBLINGE program is over. But where needed, the initiative also provides continued assistance to young people during their vocational training. It gives advice on how to handle conflicts and stressful situations and offers extra tuition.
Some participants take a bit longer to figure out what they want to do, while others have rather high-flying ideas and need to be brought back down to earth.
“With Bilal, I did not need to worry about that,” says Syndikus, who is particularly delighted about the quick success of his mentee. “You suffer with them as a mentor when things take a long time and they get rejected time and again,” says Syndikus, who has a 20-year-old son himself. Syndikus does not have a fixed agenda for what to do with his mentees. He tries to cater to their individual needs. “Some participants take a bit longer to figure out what they want to do, while others have rather high-flying ideas and need to be brought back down to earth,” he explains. From assistance with the search for a suitable apprenticeship or internship to mock interviews and simple, hands-on tips, e.g. “take an earlier bus than necessary to get to the interview” or “iron your shirt before you go”, Syndikus does what he can to help. And experience shows that the JOBLINGE participants appreciate the support and are willing to work on themselves. “So far, none of my mentees has ever stood me up and all of them have found a place in the world of work,” says Syndikus. For him, the best moment is when a mentee is accepted for an internship or apprenticeship. “You suddenly see them thrive and develop a whole new level of confidence,” he explains. “It is really great to see that happen.”
More information about the initiative can be found at https://www.joblinge.de/english-overview/