COVID-19 health and safety protocols have halted PSEG Long Island’s hands-on community service. However, thanks to technology, it hasn’t stopped two employees, John C. and Orlando M., from mentoring people across Long Island.
Even though National Mentoring Month is recognized in January, for John and Orlando, mentoring is a year ‘round endeavor. For about a decade John, who works in PSEG Long Island’s Power Markets organization and Orlando, part of the Power Asset Management group, have mentored special needs and “at risk” students, and special needs adults through Career Employment Options, or CEO Inc. Works (CEO), in Hauppauge. And they haven’t let the pandemic slow them down!
Through the use of virtual classrooms, video chat and online conferencing, the CEO programs have remained a relevant and crucial part of daily life for so many.
Now, rather than going into high schools, meeting face-to-face in “career labs”, everyone meets on Zoom. Gathering in groups of about a dozen, Orlando and John meet with their mentees to discuss future plans and goals, including college, vocational school, and careers after high school. However, with some students facing real barriers and serious life issues, career and college counseling sometimes can be more challenging.
“Some of these kids have been approached by or are in gangs looking to get out; others are being bullied or have anxiety issues,” shared John. “We serve as positive influences for these kids as we work with them through often-serious personal crises. One benefit of the virtual meetings is that it has allowed us to mentor younger students – freshmen and sophomores – along with upperclassmen, and follow them throughout their high school career.”
“The other great thing about virtual meetings is that we can meet during the school day and also in the evenings. We also offer them one-on-one sessions,” added Orlando. “We’ve been able to share so much with these students, including information on our Lineworker Academy, and that women can be lineworkers too. And we tell them about all the job opportunities available at PSEG Long Island – some that require college degrees and others that don’t. If my advice and feedback can help one person find his or her way, I’m happy.”
Orlando and John also mentor job-seeking adults through CEO’s “networking clubs.” This program provides resume-writing skills and help develop elevator pitches, while honing interview techniques through mock interviews.
National Mentoring Month in January, was started in 2002.