On March 28, 2013, JobTrain celebrated the first graduating class of the LIFE SKILLS BOOT CAMP. Fourteen students completed the pilot program, which spanned 10-weeks and consisted of 20 individual workshops. The initial core classes emphasized goal setting and conflict resolution, the requisite soft skills needed for strong interpersonal communication and relationships. The curriculum concluded with survival skills and taught students the principles of how to manage their day-to-day lives.
The Life Skills Boot Camp was the brainchild of Russell Pyne, a longtime JobTrain advocate, board member for 17 years and former chairman of the board of directors. “In a way, I like to think I was promoted,” he said of leading the workshop. “It was the next step in my evolution of getting to know JobTrain. Previously, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with the clients.”
The boot camp and its curriculum were developed approximately a year ago, after Pyne taught a workshop on personal finance as encouraged by his dear friend and JobTrain Executive Director Sharon Williams. “As a VC, my life is focused on finance and entrepreneurship,” said Russell, who is founder and Managing Director of Menlo Park-based Atrium Capital. ”Teaching the workshop was a wonderful experience. My students responded so positively that I decided I wanted to do more.”
In order to launch the first ever JobTrain Life Skills Boot Camp, Pyne worked with one of his students, Alfred Banks and created a life skills curriculum. The objective of the pilot program was to level the playing field and establish opportunities for clients regardless of their backgrounds. “Some people have the benefit of growing up being mentored by parents, teachers and bosses. Others have no positive role models. Alfred and I tried to focus on the basic life skills you need to be prepared for the working world,” said Pyne.
The Life Skills Boot Camp graduation was remarkable, the enthusiasm and pride of its graduates and their families and friends was undeniable. Philanthropist, community activist and comedian Michael Pritchard delivered an unforgettable keynote speech.
“Don’t let the mediocre blow your candle out. Create a group of people here in this room with this first graduating class. Make this a solid and tight of a group as you have ever been around. Stay close to each other in every way that you can. Love each other; support each other – and you will change our community, our country, our planet – our world,” said Pritchard.
After receiving their certificates of completion, the graduates presented select JobTrain staff with awards signifying their appreciation for their ongoing support and mentorship.