At a career readiness expo hosted by Rep. Charles Rangel Wednesday at Columbia, the longtime Harlem congressman spoke about not losing hope through the nation’s unemployment crisis.
“A lot of people have given up on themselves, and that’s easy to understand,” Rangel said. “Others just don’t want to be rejected. There’s a little bit of pride involved when you’re asking someone for help, and it’s unfortunate that our society is like that.”
The free event, which was not open to Columbia students, was directed towards currently unemployed individuals and those looking to further their professional skills. Throughout the day, workshops were offered on résumé writing and interview skills, and participants were encouraged to interact with local employment organizations. The event was co-sponsored by Columbia’s Office of Government and Community Affairs.
“As the premiere educational institution in the city, we thought that a good role for us in the context of connecting residents with jobs would be an educational role,” Maxine Griffith, executive vice president of government and community affairs and special advisor for campus planning, said. The event was organized in response to a larger employment fair sponsored by City College on Nov. 14.
Rangel’s office also helped orchestrate the event.
“I’ve been working very closely with Maxine, and this is all part of new relationships in the Columbia community,” Rangel said. “Small as it may be, it’s a good step in the right direction.”
Following Rangel’s comments, the audience was encouraged to speak with representatives from on- and off-campus employment and professional resources, including the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center and the New York State Department of Labor.
“It’s very important that morale be kept up, even in times of recession,” Henry Silverman, manager of the New York City Region branch of the state’s Department of Labor, said. “People should always be reinventing themselves. They should always be adding skills. They should always be looking at themselves in the mirror to see what they can do to improve their ability to find work.”
Representatives from the organizations emphasized that the resources highlighted during the event are always available to the entire community.
“We draw from the community itself and from the city at large,” said Rendolph Walker, a representative from Community Impact and the Jobs and Education Empowerment Program coordinator.
“Really, what we’re doing here today is really what we do everyday,” Paul Cortissoz, executive director of Learning and Development, said. “But for some folks, they may not have heard of us, and so this is a great opportunity for us to let them know that we are here to hopefully get them back so that we can sit with them and try to help them in an actual hands-on way to find work.”