My First 10 Days

Meet Kristen – the newest addition to the recruiting team at Youth Villages.  Kristen gives the inside scoop on what can typically make or break a new job – the first two weeks. Not only is Kristen’s head spinning being in a new environment with a lot of new information, but she has just relocated from New York City back to Memphis!

Recently, I have gone through a pretty intense life change. I moved from New York City back to my hometown of Memphis, TN to work for a private non-profit organization: Youth Villages. When I packed my bags over a decade ago, with a set course of attending The University of Texas and pursuing a career in print journalism, I surely didn’t dream of returning home to work as a recruiter for an organization whose mission is to help children and families live successfully. However, despite the fact that I always create my life plans with the best of intentions, I seem to find myself in completely different places than I expect.

Thank goodness I ended up here. I have started several jobs all over the world in my years between setting off for Texas and returning home and I have to say that Youth Villages welcomes new employees in a way that exceeds even the highest Southern Hospitality standards. Even more importantly, they do it in a way that makes sense.

Each employee at Youth Villages, regardless of what position they have been hired for, starts off by attending a week long orientation. My orientation was facilitated by Jamie and David, two very different people who kept us on our toes by rotating their diverse styles. Jamie and David had both worked in various capacities for Youth Villages and were able to speak about all of the different programs and include personal anecdotes. Of course, all of us were eager to get started in our new positions, but having that first week of orientation encouraged communication between departments and locations. By having us all start together, it really helped each employee understand how vital we all are to the continuum of care that Youth Villages offers to the children and families we serve. A highlight of this week was our visit from Patrick Lawler, Youth Villages’ CEO. He makes a point to stop into every orientation he can to introduce himself and find out a little about the newest members of the YV team.

Once orientation week was complete, I said so long to my fellow new hires as we headed to our respective offices. I will admit that it felt a bit like the first day of school heading in on that Monday morning, but upon arrival, I remembered what was so special about the south and particularly about this organization. On my desk was a welcome gift that included chocolate. Immediately, I knew I had made the right decision to move to Tennessee and work for Youth Villages!

After a piece (or 6) of chocolate I started my OJT (on the job training). For most YV positions, the general orientation is followed by a week of job-specific training. Mine was led by my supervisor, Stephanie. I am a relatively thorough person and had done a lot of research on Youth Villages before deciding to give up access to Broadway plays and stellar sushi 24 hours a day. Before leaving New York, I was sure that Youth Villages was using its research based programs to provide cutting edge treatment to emotionally disturbed youth. And yet, I had no idea until OJT with Stephanie just how extensive and amazing an organization we really are. I spent the rest of that week learning about all of our programs, Residential, Treatment Foster Care, Transitional Living, In-Home Services, Specialized Crisis and Adoption and the more than 60 locations that we serve. Stephanie, in typical YV fashion, was really patient with my stumbling memory when it came to learning all of the details. Slowly but surely, I am becoming an expert on my new organization and am applying what I learn to what is becoming the day to day routine of my job.

One of the many things Youth Villages does right is treat their employees well. This is just another example of the things done here that make sense.  Things like tuition reimbursement that is available to all employees leads to a more highly educated staff. Our wellness program includes fitness centers at many of our offices, leading to happier, healthier staff. In my second week here, I signed up for an after work Zumba class. Talk about jumping right in… I have been introducing myself to many coworkers while sweating profusely and battling my own hips which refuse to sway in tune with our music! At the same time, I am feeling great and loving my new life.

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