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community

In The World: helping “at risk” young people find work

28 October 2018

DeAndre Esteen works as an Assistant Vice President of Community Relations in Henderson, Nevada, US, and also volunteers at CXWorks – a Barclays-sponsored initiative that provides young people with free customer service and call centre skills. He talks to us about his role as a mentor – and why volunteering “comes from the heart”.

I first joined Barclays four years ago and it’s been awesome since day one. I work as an Assistant Vice President of Community Relations, so it’s my job to connect our colleagues with their passions and help them make a real difference in the community. We have so many fantastic employees here at Barclays who want to make a difference in the lives of others – I am lucky enough to help create those opportunities for them.

As part of my role at Barclays, I help organise the CXWorks programme. The initiative – run in partnership with Tech Impact – provides free customer service and call centre training to “at risk” young people aged between 18 and 26. It’s an eight-week programme where students will enjoy a range of in-class training, interview practice and mentoring. 

Helping people has always been important to me. Before I joined the bank, I worked at a homeless shelter for abused women and children called The Shade Tree. I learnt a lot there and it equipped me with so many skills that I can bring to my current position.

Your mentor is someone who’s going to see the potential greatness in you, even if others haven’t spotted it yet.

Working with CXWorks through my role at Barclays inspired me to volunteer as a mentor to one of the students. I’m now responsible for preparing him for life after CXWorks. When graduates leave the programme we want to ensure they have not only the right skills, but also the right mindset for securing a job.

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I spend a lot of time working on Tech Impact, both professionally and through volunteering. I’m obviously mentoring, but I also help to organise the project as a whole. We also run “lunch and learn sessions”, which are informal meetings where a group of Barclays colleagues have lunch with the students.

It’s a good opportunity for everyone to get to know each other, and students can connect with other Barclays colleagues, not just their mentors, which is a great way to widen their professional networks.

I know it’s important to provide mentorship, because I myself have benefitted as a mentee throughout my life. Your mentor is someone who’s going to see the potential greatness in you, even if others haven’t spotted it yet. Sometimes things might not be going well at school or work, and it’s important to have someone you can turn to for advice. Mentors are there to motivate, inspire and provide guidance on the way to greatness. I think we all have a responsibility to give back, and I want to help the community around me thrive.

Volunteering serves as a lesson in understanding and compassion – how can you not be touched by the stories of the people you are trying to help?

The programme has been running for two years now and the results have been brilliant. We are averaging about 90% of students graduating with a job offer, and approximately one graduate per class ends up coming to work here at Barclays. We’ve seen so many success stories – take my colleague Betsy as an example. Betsy started out in the first CXWorks class and quickly established herself as a leader among the group. When it came to her mock interview at Barclays – an activity intended to prep her for future job applications – the interviewer was so impressed that they offered her a job straight away. She’s now been recognised as a five star champion for delivering customer service, and is an ambassador for the CXWorks programme. We are all so proud of her.

I truly believe that volunteering – both with CXWorks and on other projects – has affected me in a positive way. It serves as a lesson in understanding and compassion – how can you not be touched by the stories of the people you are trying to help? When you volunteer, you are volunteering from the heart – and it’s a very powerful experience.