The Kateri Tekakwitha Fund Intern Project’s object is to facilitate job opportunities for recent high school graduates without work experience. In Guatemala, the key to finding work is to have prior experience. Without work experience it is next to impossible to secure employment.
To secure this work experience for recent high school graduates, the Kateri Fund coordinates internships with employers according to the profession of each young woman, with the object of their acquiring work experience. In this way, the young women, in the future, can secure whatever job they seek. At the same time, they are strengthening their skills. Workshops also are provided which focus on finding employment, so that in the future they will be successful in finding employment that will benefit themselves and their families.
At the end of the process, the interns agreed that they were motivated and ready to look for work, since they had the work experience necessary to assume work in their profession.
Juana Cun Sismit, who has her “Licenciatura”, a degree similar to a master’s degree, with a major in Social Work, continued as the program coordinator. She began the project by writing a work plan. In accordance with the plan, she then coordinated placement of the interns with businesses and institutions corresponding to their career training. This is the most complicated part because many of the organizations take a lot of time evaluating their participation and in the end answer that the internship is not possible. Therefore, much time is lost waiting for an answer. This happens more in government agencies and large for profit businesses. The conclusion is that to coordinate this phase of the project requires more time if an adequate space is to be found for the intern.
Previously, it was easier to coordinate with organizations that have various programs in education, health, community development, etc. These groups are willing to provide a space for the interns to exercise the career they were trained for.
Another thing that Juana found was that it is important to listen to the young women about the difficulties in their area of work. It is necessary to not only listen, but to analyze and find a solution quickly and, if it is necessary, communicate with the person in charge to improve the learning process.
To deepen the knowledge of the young women, the first Thursday of each month, the young women assisted at a workshop at the Kateri office. The workshops began with the theme of employment in Guatemala and in the areas where they live specifically and what employers will ask for when they seek work. Juana shared information with the young women and they exchanged their own ideas about the work situation in Guatemala and in the places where the they live.
Another theme developed, was how to work the Excel computer program. They learned to handle accounts, balances, sums, subtraction, multiplication and division formulas.
Another workshop concerned how to pay taxes in the superintendencia de administracion tributaria (SAT), specifically how to enter the webpage of Declara Guate and about the page for small taxpayers. At the same time, they learned how to solicit their police and penal reports which employers ask for as a part of their Curriculum Vitae. Each of the young women wrote her Curriculum Vitae both in electronic form and printed.
They practiced job interviews mentioning the possible questions and the necessity of each person knowing something about the business of the place where they were being interviewed. This knowledge would help them answer questions during the interview.
In the workshop, the interns practiced interviewing. Each intern took the part of the interviewer or the interviewee, so that they would have an idea how to present themselves in an interview.
Two representatives of the Labor Ministry introduced the programs that the Labor Ministry has to coordinate work opportunities and key elements in a job search were explained.
An important aspect of these workshops was that the young women had a chance to share freely their feelings about work and the project manager also was able to share her experiences. This gave them an idea how they can continue to succeed in their work and studies
The Fund feels that by demonstrating the capacity of Guatemalan women to work in different areas of employment, it continues moving the participation of women in all areas of Society. It raises awareness that it is important for women to have a way to demonstrate the abilities that they have. Only in this way will a better quality of life for woman and their families develop.
Of the five young women who benefited from the project, four have permanent employment. They dream of being able to study in the university next year and think they will be able to also help their families by covering the expenses of the education of their younger siblings. This is a success for the Fund.
Take the case of Delmy Aracely Chali Cun. She was an intern in the Hogar Santa Maria de Guadelupe in Santa Apolonia and in el Instituto Municpal Ajpu in San Juan Comalapa. When she completed her internship, she continued her employment in the Instituto Municipal. Now that she has employment, she will be able to be able to enter the Universidad next year and study for her degree in Social Work.
Reina Cuxil also has been able to secure employment as a result of her internship. As an intern, she worked with a women’s group in Chumanzana organizing a project of organic gardening. She was able to secure work in her village working with two government projects: CONALFA, an adult literacy program and SOSEP, working with preschool children. Not only is she working to support herself, but she is giving back to her community and helping to better life there.
Because of the investment of Mary's Pense and the contributions of our Global Giving donors these young women are launched on a positive path. All donations now will go toward supporting another group of young women as they leave high school and begin their careers.
Reina Cuxil in her CONALFA Classroom.