Part of our summer program includes hiring a “handyman.” The handyman’s role is to be a liaison between the staff and our program participants. Preferably, the handyman is a former — and reformed — gang member.
Yesterday we interviewed a young man.
He finished my sentences.
I asked, “Why do you want this—”
“Job?” he said.
“What qualifies you to work—”
“With gang members?” he said.
“I’m certified. I’ve been a gunman since my youth.” He paused. “On the streets, my reputation speaks for itself.”
He was trying his best to eloquently answer questions, but his words were messy and jumbled, his sentences disorganized.
But I knew exactly what he was trying to say. I understand how difficult it is to coherently communicate that “I was born to do this work.”
After the interview the staff debriefed. Someone was worried about the weight he put into his involvement with the streets.
I said, “If I were interviewing for a job I would highlight the eleven years of experience I have working with youth. He was doing the same, listing what is relevant job experience.”
His street life is his resume:
Gang Member - 1999-2006
- Activity participated in a gang war.
- Injured several people with firearms.
- Terrorized a community.
- Knowledge of semi-automatics; an expert in using the Smith & Weston 357.
Until he is given an opportunity, only his street life will be the full summary of his resume.