In the Tampa area, thousands of professionals are without jobs. Some have neighbors and peers who say they’ve tried everything to find work. To engage unemployed professionals, WEDU Vice President of Communications Laura Fage and her station colleagues created the Blue Sky Project, a unique volunteer consortium of professionals.
“It’s not your typical volunteer experience,” says Fage. “We interview the candidates and match them to meaningful station initiatives. It’s truly their own projects; they handle them from start to finish.”
The Blue Sky Project has thrown open the station doors to professionals who’ve never worked in broadcasting. For example, an unemployed anthropologist is managing some of the station’s volunteer initiatives. “We benefit because she’s extremely talented,” explains Fage, “and she gets to stretch her current skills and develop new ones.”
While they learn new skills, professionals in the Blue Sky Project use their volunteer experience to network and fill the hole in their resume created by job loss. In the process, participants demonstrate to prospective employers that they have the drive to use their free time in a meaningful way that helps WEDU in its important work. “That’s great content for a resume,” says Fage.
While Fage is pleased that Blue Sky can help professionals prospect for new employment, her ultimate goal is to help people cope with unemployment. “We want them to feel the dignity and sense of self-importance they may have lost along with their jobs. That’s the blue sky we’re trying to provide. It’s a sense of hope.”