On Wednesday, November 6, 2019, members of DBI Architects’ staff participated with the DC|MD Chapter of NAIOP (National Association of Industrial and Office Properties) in the 5th Annual “Gear Up for Year Up” event, benefiting the nonprofit Year Up (www.yearup.org). Year Up’s stated mission is “to close the Opportunity Divide by ensuring that young adults gain the skills, experiences, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through careers and higher education.” The event took place at the Haworth Showroom, 600 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.
Each year, NAIOP DC|MD chapter members, Board Members and professional coaches take part in the “Gear Up” event, conducting mock interviews, helping participants craft “elevator speeches” and tune up their interviewing skills, emphasizing appearance, delivery, and presentation. The NAIOP connection also gives the young people involved an introduction to commercial real estate and its associated services. This year, 50 NAIOP DC|MD chapter members, board members, and professional coaches donated their time and expertise to mentor 150 young people from across DC, Maryland, and Virginia who were enrolled in the program. Year Up requires that participants be:
18-24 years old
A high school graduate or GED recipient
Of low to moderate income
A U.S. Citizen, permanent resident, or have an employment authorization card
Available 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) for the full year of the program
Highly motivated to learn new technical and professional skills
Further, the program only accepts participants who have not obtained a bachelor’s degree.
DBI Architects Principal Roseanne Beattie organized and chaired this year’s event, as she has for the past 5 years, bringing in subject matter experts in seven areas, including Information Technology, Fashion, Life Logistics, Men’s Grooming, Women’s Makeup, Etiquette, and Human Resources. As much as possible, Ms. Beattie works within the NAIOP DC|MD chapter, recruiting consultants from members in the real estate, architecture and engineering industries.
The Year Up program provides six months of training, followed by a six-month internship. The internships can lead to permanent positions, sometimes with Fortune 500 companies, but all with reputable, established firms.
“I really enjoy working with Year Up and NAIOP, to bring the program together,” Beattie said. “My favorite part is the actual mentoring. These young adults are trying to find a living-wage job. They’re trying very hard to land permanent positions. It’s very rewarding to be able to give them the benefit of my experience.”
Also participating were DBI Architectural Director Leslie Davis, and Marketing Associate Mirna Martinez. Ms. Davis was back for her fourth year; Ms. Martinez participated as a mentor for the first time this year. “DBI, and the industry in general offer a lot of volunteer opportunities,” Davis said. “I look at it as a great way to give back.”
“Anytime I see a need to help younger people it catches my attention. Having a great mentor in your life growing up can be life changing,” Martinez said. “I volunteer at my kids’ school on various events and hope to do more in the future.”
Ms. Davis noted that the program has grown significantly in her years of participation. “The program is so popular,” she said. “It’s definitely gotten bigger. I did ten interviews this year. In years past, it’s been closer to six or seven.”
Approximately 1,000 young people applied for the program this year. Less than 15% were selected.
“They were definitely better prepared,” Davis said. “I heard a lot of comments about how valuable the program is, how it gets them prepared for good jobs – salaried, not hourly. One young woman told me ‘If there are two people interviewing for a job, and one has a college degree but no real experience, and the other has an internship and a two-year degree, who would you choose? Year Up makes you much more competitive in the job market.’”
Ms. Beattie sums it up well. She says, “At DBI, we are passionate about having a positive impact in the community. Whether that’s through responsible and creative design in the built environment, or by giving back, through mentorship and leadership, DBI is committed to making a difference.”