Youth Villages: A Career Conversation with Justice Franklin

What motivated you to join Youth Villages?
Personally, I was looking for a company that not only makes an impact, but makes that impact well. With the variety of programs that Youth Villages offers as one of the largest national non-profits, I was very drawn to the work, the quality of it, and passion of those involved.

How does Youth Villages convey to employees a sense of belonging?
Youth Villages does quite a bit to create a positive culture of belonging and fostering community among staff! With the nature of the work we do, Youth Villages empathizes support between staff to accomplish goals and teamwork to overcome any obstacles. We host things such as cook-outs on our residential treatment centers, group health initiatives such as a steps/walking competition you can do with others in your office, and so much more to ensure we are fostering a positive culture. We also have Our Family Campaign which is a program where employees can opt in to donate funds towards improving our programs; however, those funds are also available for certain emergency instances for staff to take advantage of if they need help.

In what ways has Youth Villages supported your professional development and growth?
Youth Villages has always given me the tools, support, and encouragement to attempt pretty much any projects or development that I am interested in. The company prides itself on being able to help you navigate professionally from Point A to Point B. Our benefits even reflect this with things such as tuition reimbursement and licensure supervision for social workers! In addition to the resources provided, I am guided by great leadership that allows to me create the trajectory of my growth in a way that works best for me without asking me to sacrifice any of my character.

In what ways are you supported in maintaining a healthy work-life balance?
I take advantage of our benefits! We offer things such as gym reimbursements, money management programs, and more that can make a significant improvement in your life. Moreover, leadership here understands the value of self-care and maintaining a health work-life balance and always encourage us to use our Paid Time Off and schedule breaks/vacations.

How do you know that you’re making a difference/having an impact with the work that you do?
I can see it! We have a wide variety of internal publications that give us updates on how our staff and youth are doing. We have videos, podcasts, articles and more. It’s through these publications that I can see stories of how Our Family Campaign has made a positive impact on a staff’s life during a crisis or learn about a recent adoption story that includes one of the youths we work with.

What makes you proud to represent Youth Villages?
Knowing that I am making a difference that matters and is tangible. Additionally, I enjoy working for a company that places the health and well-being of staff first. We have made a lot of progressive decisions, such as ensuring our salaries are always competitive and adopting Work from Home models for some roles, that makes me feel comfortable and secure at a company that seems to always want to be ahead and not fall behind.

In what ways do you feel like you’ve grown since working for Youth Villages?
I have seen a lot of all-around professional growth during my time at Youth Villages as well as personal growth that I was able to achieve through our benefits such as health insurance for therapy. Taking advantage of learning opportunities given to me by leadership and through our development center has also helped me reached new levels.

What do you wish you had known about the professional world when you were a student?
The importance of tracking and including things on my resume and creating long-term networking. As a student, I was involved with a lot of different groups and organizations that enabled me to do a wide variety of things such as facilitating professional development sessions, organizing conferences and leading as Master of Ceremony, and more. However, I lost track of a good number of those things that would have otherwise improved the quality of my resume or job profiles. I also wish that I had maintained contact with a lot of the other professionals that I would meet during my time at college.

In thinking about emerging young professionals, what advice would you share to those seeking their first opportunities?
Trust the process. We all are vaguely aware of the destination we want to arrive at, and while that first opportunity might seem like it should immediately fast track you to that, it’s a chance it just might not. That doesn’t mean your goal is denied. It just means your journey has taken a different path and this new path probably has lessons for you to learn and is to help you discover strengths you never knew you had. Personal success is never a straight line, so never feel shame if yours involve plenty of twists and turns.

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