When Kendrick was released from incarceration in the middle of a global pandemic, he didn’t know how he was going to stay connected. Everything from trying to access services to stay in touch with friends and family had gone online. He had not even heard of Zoom.
For over a year, applications like Zoom have become an integral part of daily life, from staying in touch to working from home. After his release, Kendrick only had an email account that allowed him to communicate remotely but had never joined a Zoom call or spent much time online.
“Some people can go on the internet [and use it] because they have that experience,” he said. “I wasn’t able to [do] that.”
To better function in an increasingly digital world, Kendrick enrolled in Fortune’s Grow with Google Career Readiness for Reentry program, a partnership with Google to help participants improve their digital literacy skills.
The 3-week training course is led by our team of expert Vocational Instructors, many of whom are formerly justice-involved, and is coupled with job placement support so graduating participants can access quality jobs.
In the course, Kendrick learned how to use his Gmail account and join Zoom calls. In the beginning, he was so unfamiliar with the applications, he couldn’t even join the call properly.
At the start of his first class on Zoom, he was able to get into the meeting room, but couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t able to hear anyone and no one could hear him. After quickly phoning Fortune and getting a walkthrough of how to fix his audio issue, Kendrick was back in the Zoom room.
One of the biggest goals for Kendrick was to learn how to apply for jobs online using an electronic resume. The instructors walked everyone through using Google Docs, where they were tasked with creating a resume. Now, their resumes are available to them through Google Drive so they can easily locate the files and apply to jobs, all at no cost to participants.
For Kendrick, the most helpful aspect of the Grow with Google Career Readiness for Reentry program was the one-on-one time spent with the instructors. While the group classes were integral to learning about career readiness, these individual sessions allowed him to move at his own pace.
“The time that they spent with the individual to give them the assistance they needed, that was great for me because I needed that,” Kendrick said.
Kendrick is currently aiming to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and become a professional driver. Through the Grow with Google Career Readiness for Reentry program, Kendrick is more acclimated with digital tools such as a GPS, something he’ll be utilizing often. But he knows having these skills will be useful even outside of the workforce.
To learn more about Fortune’s Grow with Google Career Readiness for Reentry program, click here.
In partnership with Google and the Grow with Google Career Readiness for Reentry program, The Fortune Society will publish a series of stories and social media posts about ways we are addressing the growing digital divide and its impact on the justice-involved population.