The Advent of the Ergon Professional Hub
by Lisa Lickona
The spark for Ergon Professional Hub first came two years ago in a conversation between Andrea and Father José. Andrea shared how his positive experience as a mentor in the biomedical field had provoked in him the idea to draw a few friends and colleagues together to share the challenges and opportunities that they were experiencing in their jobs. Father José immediately encouraged him to think bigger, in the direction of a nationwide effort to help others in their work.
In the meantime, Andrea and others began meeting to discuss Father Giussani’s teachings on work, an effort which became the “Speaking of Work” group. In February, in a conversation that the Speaking of Work members were having with Giorgio Vittadini at New York Encounter, the idea of a nationwide support network surfaced again. Noting the accomplishments of the professionals that had gathered, Giorgio challenged them: why not take all that experience and start a charitable work to help others in their work challenges?
Andrea put in a call to Maurizio, who had earlier headed up the New York Work Center, and Maurizio, now centered in California, was eager to join the effort. Even as the COVID-19 crisis was sweeping New York and a slew of professionals were finding themselves unexpectedly jobless, Ergon Professional Hub was born.
Jian was one of those professionals. After over fifteen years in global sourcing, procurement, supply chain management, and manufacturing for the apparel business, Jian’s position was eliminated due to COVID-19. She suddenly faced a job search in a wildly uncertain economy. A friend who had been receiving the Ergon emails suggested that Jian reach out to Andrea.
In their first conversation, Andrea immediately plugged Jian into the three levels of support that Ergon offers: one-on-one mentoring with an experienced professional, networking, and regular zoom seminars that help participants expand their skills and explore new career paths.
Jian asked for a mentor right off and was paired with Stephano. In their first virtual meeting, Jian expressed that she would like to take the transferable skills she has developed in the apparel business to pivot to other in-demand industries, like healthcare-related businesses and the consumer goods industry. Noting Jian’s fluency in Mandarin and Cantonese, Stephano suggested that she apply to Chinese companies in U.S. and the American companies doing business with China as well. And he urged her to think about offering her skills as a consultant and to make contact with head-hunters.
As homework, Stephano gave Jian the assignment of researching the companies they had discussed and putting the information in an Excel chart. The experience, Jian says, was transformative. “Suddenly there was this clear roadmap in front of me. I had six totally different categories of companies where I could see that I could apply my skills.”
Over the following weeks, Jian continued to expand her search, always in conversation with Stephano, with whom she has Zoom meetings weekly or bi-weekly. With Andrea’s help, Jian reached out to some other members of Ergon, who offered her opportunities to network in the fields that she is investigating and served as secondary mentors who could help with re-vamping her resumé and cover letter and preparing for interviews.
Jian’s interest in “upskilling” has also led her to attend Ergon’s online seminars that offer support for job seekers as well as those who want to grow or transition in their career. A recent Ergon seminar highlighted ways to enhance one’s online presence via YouTube or Instagram, and an upcoming offering will focus on the power of placing ads on Facebook. Andrea says that the seminar presenters are experts in their field, people who can show others “how to do it successfully.”
To this point, 150 people have joined Ergon, and forty people are currently being helped in their job search. Andrea emphasizes that Ergon is not just for those in Communion and Liberation. “It is for anyone who is passionate to get help or to give help to others.”
What is paramount is the accompaniment. “In our jobs we are very isolated, very lonely,” he said. “There is a need for community, for people, a fellowship of those who get together and face their challenges together. The method of the community is important in work as in life.”
Jian says that the time spent with Andrea and Stephano as they have brainstormed ideas and crafted advice and technical help targeted for her situation has been an experience of “humanity.” “Having people with you in the journey is amazing. I don’t have time to be down or pessimistic. So many people are out there watching out for me.”
Throughout, Jian finds herself living a dynamic of “giving and receiving.” Working with Ergon has helped her “to visualize the big picture, the ways to approach the search, the connections.” Even as she continues her job search, Jian has also volunteered to help others.
The experience of working with Ergon is “very moving,” she says.
“No one can do the job search for you. You have to have the desire, the motivation, and take actions. But I feel so lucky, so grateful that I have a whole community to accompany me in my journey! It is very encouraging and empowering. You cannot get there alone.”❖
Getting Involved with Ergon:
· Volunteer: If you’d like to volunteer with Ergon, please fill out this form
· Get Help: If you are looking for work or a career change, please contact email@example.com to request to be matched with an Ergon mentor.