I was listening to the radio the other day when I heard someone say that most people who are looking to hire are looking for someone with experience. But how can you get experience if no one will hire you?

It was for an advertisement for the U.S. Military, but this is a very legitimate question (Hold that thought).

I was recently speaking with a group of friends. We were talking about all of the violence that is taking place in the city of Chicago right now and the question was asked, “What can we do about it?” Someone mentioned the fact that most of our young people have nothing to do. They have too much time on their hands and when anyone has that much time to be idle, a situation can quickly become, as the elders would say, “The devil’s workshop.”

We can attest to it. A few weeks ago, 37 people were shot across the city in just one weekend. It can be said that if people had jobs, maybe…just maybe…they would not be on the streets committing crimes. Well, I decided to talk to a young man that I know had been on probation, and I asked him why he committed a crime? The young man explained to me that he needed money and that, at his age, he could not get work legally, so he found work illegally.

He said that the streets will make you grow up quick. He told me that with this kind of work you have to be ready to kill or be killed. I asked him why he would do it, explaining that what he was doing was hurting a lot of people. He, again, said that he needed the money for his family, and no one would hire him. This, I thought, was a terrible situation.

In my position as the director of the Austin African American Business Networking Association, I get the opportunity to speak with many business professionals. So at a recent meeting I asked if anyone was hiring? I was so frustrated about what’s going on with young black youth. Almost every business owner that I spoke with replied that they needed good help and would have loved to hire someone. Still, many of them said that most people do not have any experience.

So, here is that question again. The people with jobs are looking for experience but how can you get experience if no one will hire you? Let me answer the question for everyone. Try volunteering.

What? Volunteer? Work and not get paid?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not always about the dollar. Volunteering can give you much-needed experience. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to learn a new skill. It is impressive on a resume to see that someone has not been idle, but instead made the best use of their time. For an employer it may make the difference between just saying “no” or being willing to take a chance.

How many of you know someone who just sits around the house saying, “I don’t have anything to do.” They say they have put in many applications. You may want to tell them to consider volunteering. They may be able to help someone else and, in turn, help themselves. I am convinced that what we need right now is a marketable workforce and volunteering maybe the way to attain that goal.

Now, with all that is going on, it is worth a shot. The life you may save could be your own.

contact: aaabna@yahoo.com