Editor’s Note: Ploy Chapman is our Workforce Development Intern. Originally from Thailand, she came to Syracuse to get her masters and stayed. This post is her first article for our website.
I joined the Northside Urban Partnership team about a month ago as an intern. I was here at the very end of Green Train 9 and watched the participants work hard on a project at Adam’s Eden Camp and, later, graduate. We had so much fun and everyone got along so well that I could not imagine what it must have been like at the beginning of this training.
Last week we began screening candidates for our 10th Green Train Class in Weatherization and Construction. This offered me the chance to watch the program develop from the very beginning.
On the first day of tryouts, we had applicants come to the West Side Learning Center at 9 AM. After a short introduction and orientation to the program, we kicked off the process with academic testing. Due to the large volume of applicants, we had to split the group into two testing rooms. This testing is designed to identify ideal candidates for our program, ones who are able to comprehend and apply basic English and math skills. This can be scary for participants, as English may not be their first language and it has been a long time since they’ve been evaluated in these areas. I understand how nervous the applicants must be, because my native language is not English. However, academic test scores are not everything. Following the test, applicants come in for an interview where we look for sincere personalities and ambition. The next component, held during the second day of tryouts, is the construction assessment, where we test people’s skills for working in the construction field. After this, we make a selection of candidates we want to test further and hold a teambuilding workshop for them on the third and final day of tryouts. During this session, we watch how each applicant follows direction, takes the lead and interacts with team members. Last, the Green Train instruction team and Northside UP staff meet to discuss each applicant. It is very difficult to make the final cut, because you realize how significant this program is for someone who wants to better their life for their family.
After three long days of competitive tryouts, we made our final selections. Seventy individuals from all over the city applied for the training; after some difficult decisions, only twelve made the final cut. Those whom we did not accept are invited to try again for the next program, scheduled for winter of 2013. As for this 10th Green Train class, I am looking forward to spending time, sharing laughs and joys, and working with you all! Congratulations on your acceptance! We believe we’ve got a great class, which will start on Monday, May 21st.