WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Joshua Mercado of Yonkers walked away from the 2014 Westchester County Youth Workforce Summit Tuesday with a job at Robison Oil.
Unbeknownst to the approximately 150 youth from ages 16 to 24 at the Crowne Plaza in White Plains for the third annual summit, Robison Oil co-owner David Singer was looking for a new recruit or two. He went “undercover” and observed the students throughout the day.
“What I really wanted to get across to them by doing it as a mystery was that you have to present yourself in a professional way at all time,” he said.
Mercado, who went to Poughkeepsie High School, is in his third year at Westchester Community College.
“I was definitely surprised,” he said. “I didn’t think I presented myself well, but God was with me and blessed me.”
Before the “undercover boss” announced he was hiring Mercado and one other who had to leave before the announcement, motivational speaker Al Duncan provided tips about career and employment. Break-out sessions were then held focusing on workforce issues like social media, goal setting and developing your strengths.
Like Mercado, Lashanae Amaker, a junior at White Plains High School, got a welcome surprise from Robison Oil when a representative told her they would hire her if she weren’t in high school.
“That boosted my confidence and how I present myself and how people see me,” she said.
Lynassa Lueay, who attends Alexander Hamilton High School in Elmsford, said she enjoyed listening to Duncan, who said he was a saxophone player and chef before becoming a motivational speaker.
“I learned that what you want to do you can just take detours to it,” Lueay said. “So it takes a while for you to know what you want to do. “I don’t know what I want to do but what I do I think I’ll be the best at it.”
Katherine and Elizabeth, who both attend Port Chester High School, said they were inspired by the speaker and activities. “It’s motivating me to do better,” said Katherine, who works at a nursing home after school.
Donnovan Beckford, director of the Workforce Investment Board, said he hopes the summit helps kids focus on the big picture issues as they go off to college or to the workforce.