Team Helps Job Seekers at Metropolitan Ministries Workshop

By Joseph Priest, APR and PRSA Tampa Bay member

Third time is the charm” goes the old saying. But even though PRSA Tampa Bay recently had two successful visits to Metropolitan Ministries to hold job-search-skills counseling sessions, in many ways our third visit, in February, was our best visit of all.

Our team, with Olivia Keegan (fourth from right), Karen McAllister (far right), and Joseph Priest (behind Karen), along with members and administrators of the Metropolitan Ministries life skills program.

On Feb. 21, the Public Service Committee returned to the nonprofit to participate in a half-day workshop that featured a variety of volunteer speakers from different organizations that came to help disadvantaged job seekers in the nonprofit’s life skills program. The life skills program provides a range of life-management and career-building services to help people in critical economic need. These services include one that takes in people for a period of six to nine months during which they live at residence halls on Metropolitan Ministries’ main office and attend a series of workshops and activities to help them reset their life and prepare for a new future. 

Our team’s visit followed two sessions at Metropolitan Ministries that we led in August and May last year, but while those sessions mostly focused on résumé reviews, our latest workshop went beyond those by providing more high-level guidance on common-sense communication and decision-making skills in the business world. Specifically, our team drew on its public-relations strategic-planning and critical-analysis skills to bring together more of the full range of public relations disciplines into the insights we presented.   

Karen discusses the importance of knowing your manager’s preferred method of communication.

Our session included a 30-minute presentation of personal insights and best practices followed by a short group exercise and question-and-answer period. Three chapter members participated: Olivia Keegan, Karen McAllister and Joseph Priest.

Bringing together different public relations skills from our own experience and job roles, each of us shared different pieces of advice and best practices on communication and decision-making. Here is a sampling:

Olivia Keegan

  • Remember that your body language can be as important as your speech, and to be aware of what your facial expression, posture, walk and other actions can convey about you.
  • Never underestimate the power of a smile and a firm handshake when meeting someone and making a first impression.
  • As a truth test of how prepared you are to explain to someone why you’re right for a job, how well could you make an elevator pitch and describe your best qualifications in 30 seconds or less? (This test was later used for one of the class exercises.) 

Olivia explains that what you say with your body language can be as important what you say with your words.

Karen McAllister

  • Take advantage of being new when you start a job! Ask lots of questions, get to know names, and remember that new co-workers appreciate when you ask, “How can I help?”
  • Ensure that you know your manager’s preferred method of communication. Email, phone, text, other?

Joseph Priest

  • When angered or upset by a situation and facing a difficult in-person meeting or digital exchange with a co-worker to resolve the situation, wait as long as possible before to allow any excess emotion to drain and for you to be your normal self.
  • When using email, double-check “To” and “CC” fields to ensure that no one is left out, and consider the best order to list team members’ names (most senior, most junior, most relevant, etc.).

Joseph introduces PRSA Tampa Bay at the beginning of the session.

Although we only had a little more than an hour, our team had a productive visit. We were able to offer high-level communication advice to job seekers that don’t normally have access to this kind of counsel.

Here are our team members’ impressions on what they found to be the most rewarding part of their experience:

“The most rewarding part for me was watching the job seekers’ faces light up as we went through our introduction and elevator pitch exercises. When they wrote down their goals and skills and articulated them to one another, you could see their confidence grow.” – Olivia Keegan 

"I appreciated seeing how engaged the attendees were. They are ready to go out and make a difference, and I am hoping for the best for all of them." – Karen McAllister

“Equally as rewarding as having individual meetings with the job seekers was witnessing my team members share their individual expertise and demonstrate their passion to serve our profession. I’m fortunate to be able to have them as my colleagues.”– Joseph Priest

The Public Service Committee is planning to build on this session with similar events later this year. Stay tuned for more details on these here on the PRSA Tampa Bay website.


The class goes through some exercises to practice new skills at the end of the session.

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