Throughout the pandemic, The Fortune Society’s volunteers have been integral to supporting our Employment Services program as it continues remotely. Through mock interviews, now conducted virtually, volunteers help participants build confidence for real-world interviews and go on to gain meaningful employment.
One such volunteer is Ethridge, who recently celebrated her fourth anniversary working with Fortune. Ethridge first learned about Fortune through her church community, and came with a background in the mental health field. She decided to volunteer out of a desire to give hope and restoration to people coming home from incarceration.
Two to three times a week, Ethridge conducts mock interviews, helping participants realize their potential as future employees and pinpoint their skills and professional experiences—which they sometimes don’t realize they have.
“I always tell them that whatever you did behind the prison wall is an experience, is a job, is a skill. Even if you pick paper up, newspaper, the trash, because it helps you with a porter resume. Even if you worked in the kitchen as a helper, it helps you,” she said.
As part of Fortune’s curriculum, many mock interviews are recorded , so that participants have the opportunity to see how they present themselves and correct body language and nervousness—which can be common for people with justice involvement who may have significant gaps in their employment history.
Outside of Fortune, Ethridge has also facilitated classes at Rikers Island, even referring people she worked with to Fortune’s services. She encourages others to volunteer for Fortune because it gives people hope and second chances.