Self-presentation via PowerPoint to increase Employability

  • Goal

Young people have many abilities, graffiti demonstrates graphical skills, DJ activities show musical skills and activities like babysitting show a sense of responsibility. All these can be useful in the working world. However, the youth workers from the Austrian pilot day-by-day see that their youngsters often lack the self-esteem to recognise such abilities and are not able to present these personal qualities.

The action described here was carried out in all three youth centres in Vienna and tried to help the youngsters to discover their competences thus also strengthening their self-esteem. Good self-presentation can be a factor in a person’s success in finding a job. Additionally, youngsters could gain some useful knowledge of office (eg. Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org) software along the way.

  • Activity

Youngsters were given the task of creating a presentation using popular presentation software. They were asked to think about their abilities, strengths and competences and put them in a presentation together with their contact details and a photo. To fulfil this task several modules of standard office software would have to be used, thus developing knowledge and experience about the software and how it can be used.

There was no joint training session but several dates were set where the youngsters could come to the youth centre if they liked to receive training. Support from youth workers was available any time, of course. An online forum to offer help and to allow for asking questions was established, too.

  • Tools and resources

Early in the project, the free application OpenOffice was installed on all Netbooks used in the VJZ pilot in Austria. The program mostly used would be Impress, the OpenOffice equivalent of the Microsoft presentation software PowerPoint. Support was given via chat functionality of Netlog and MSN and a forum was established on Netlog. In this action social software tools were used for accompanying communication and support only. The youngsters, of course, were free to use any means of online tools to find information and help for their task.

Between 30 and 60 minutes of individual contact were planned for supporting the youngsters. Pre-existing knowledge about standard office applications existed throughout the youth workers so no additional resources were necessary for staff training. Youngsters may need continuous motivation by youth workers through personal or online contact which may require additional resources.

  • Results and evaluation

The activity was not really a success, at least in terms of reaching the set goal. As it turned out, good self-presentation is not relevant for the type of job (‘McJobs’) which youngsters from the pilot youth centres are trying to get. The kind of information and competences they were offering is not necessary. The young people do not have any real experience with office software, except perhaps a word processor (Word from Microsoft, Writer from OpenOffice.org). This seems a little strange for the use of office software nowadays is required in many schools.

In the course of this activity it showed that social software is somewhat limited when it comes to giving support. It was especially seen that youngsters do not use forums a lot and do not like them. On the other hand youngsters often have, for whatever reason, problems with sticking to dates agreed on. Social software helps a lot here for one can be there virtually any time he or she wants.

This experience once again showed that a task that is ‘imposed’ on youngsters most certainly does not work while activities based on their wishes and real needs tends to be successful - as can be seen from the cases shown in this Incluso book.