LOS ANGELES – JC De Vera, a first-generation Fil-Am, had very little idea of how to navigate through the professional world after graduating from college.
His parents were migrants workers who did not get to attend college in the US. The information and resources that he needed during this transition period were not readily available at home.
All he knew was that he “needed to get a job, but the process of getting one was never really clear” to him.
In the end, De Vera had to rely on the colleagues and peers in his personal network to guide him towards his ideal professional field.
“There wasn’t really a centralized resource, especially for Filipinos and young Filipino-Americans looking for career guidance and advice,” De Vera said in a telephone interview.
De Vera felt that there wasn’t a lot of information available for Filipino young professionals within the Fil-Am community.
JeepneyHub.com was launched with this idea in mind.
“The thing with the resources is, they’re actually out there,” De Vera explained.
With numerous Filipino professional, alumni, and community-based organizations, there is a lot of information out there that Pinoy professionals can harness in furthering their career paths.
However, there was no central location where anyone can easily access what they need.
Jeepney Hub founder and executive director Kate Blanco, who was a counselor for the SPEAR project in UCLA, said that many issues facing Fil-Am professionals or fresh graduates are culture-related: expectations from family, attitudes about asking for help, dealing with difficult conversations, speaking to professors, and being assertive in pursuing our own preferred career tracks.
“These are just some of the culturally-related issues that I addressed as a counselor for SPEAR,” Blanco pointed out.
She raised two valid points to describe the information gap for the Fil-Am professionals (or aspiring professionals, for that matter).
First, there is no concrete action to follow up on how students fare after graduation.
Second, is there enough effort from the community to prepare the young ones for the tough road after college?
That’s where Jeepney Hub comes in.
It basically aggregates and collects all information about professional advancement into one hub that is easily accessible to Filipino and Fil-Am young professionals. This way, no matter where they are, Filipinos in the US will be empowered to reach their full career potentials.
According to De Vera, today’s crop of Filipino-American professionals (the “millenials” as he calls them) would find the centralized information in Jeepney Hub very useful because these tech-savvy individuals expect to find everything they need in one single place.
De Vera said that he, together with Blanco and community affairs director Jason Tengco, decided to use the Jeepney as a metaphor for the journey that Fil-Ams take as they pursue success in their respective careers.
And as with all vehicles, jeepneys need tools to make sure that they are kept in top shape and will help you get to where you’re going.
Along the lines of that idea, Jeepney Hub has various tools that will help yuppies map out their career paths, connect them with professional and civic organizations, and give them hands-on guidance.
All these tools are conveniently divided into separate pages: Design Your Route, Jeepney Maintenance, Passenger Seat – three main subpages which comprise the three major functions of the community-driven resource hub.
“Design Your Route” is basically a page that helps users come up with a concise Plan of Action which lays out their career plan for their immediate and long term future.
It emphasizes the importance of having a vision in finding your destination. You can start with a simple vision (“I want to be a lawyer”), or you can go big right away (“I want to create the next Picasso”).
A vision, according to Jeepney Hub, should be fluid enough that it will be able to adapt to unexpected changes in your life.
There may come a time when you are no longer happy in your field, or you may have found passion in a different area. It is never too late to start over and go back to the drawing board. The point is getting started with planning out where you want to be. A Plan of Action or PoA consists three essential elements: Action, Deadline, and Resources.
“Jeepney Maintenance” is where Jeepney Hub will give users regular doses of advice and coaching. Topics covered here include exploring possible career paths, networking, interview skills, personal branding, and starting over.
This is where Filipino-American trailblazers will be publishing their own blog entries about their experiences in the field.
This is where the community-driven part of Jeepney Hub really comes into play. Fil-Am professionals, who are already established in their fields can actually share their experiences and advice to fellow young professionals, and give them advice on a wide range of topics.
“Passenger Seat” will highlight these Fil-Am trailblazers who have become movers and shakers in their fields. In-depth features about these trailblazers will inspire you and keep you company in the ride of life.
“We will be featuring Filipino-American professional youths that are already making big strides in the industries that they’re in,” De Vera said.
Other sections include “Rest Stop” (calendar of events), “Travel Guides” (organization directory), and “Your Dispatchers” (Jeepney Hub staff).
Valuable to the youth
Blanco believes that sharing the information and life lessons of fellow professionals will be very valuable to a lot of the youth who may be pursuing the same career goals.
Having someone like the trailblazers featured in the Passenger Seat section help the Fil-Am youth to figure out even the most basic steps to take them to the right path to success.
“Many youth also give up on some of their dreams because they do not believe [they] will [become] possible,” Blanco said.
“Having someone say to them ‘I got your back, let me help you get there’ makes a huge difference to someone’s life. Imagine the possibilities when we multiply these efforts,” she said.
According to De Vera, the Jeepney Hub team is “excited” in how the website and the community behind it is going to grow.
He said that during the website’s soft launch party, a big number of community leaders turned out to support Jeepney Hub.
“It’s been keeping us energized in figuring out our next steps in terms of expanding [Jeepney Hub] so that it becomes a really big resource,” he added.
You may visit Jeepney Hub at www.JeepneyHub.com. You can also connect with Jeepney Hub on Twitter (@jeepneyhub), Instagram (@jeepneyhub) and Facebook (facebook.com/JeepneyHub). For other general inquiries, you may email the Jeepney Hub Dispatchers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(LA Weekend August 31 – September 3, 2013 Sec A pg.7)