As part of an interviewing workshop, Peter Stern, from online retail giant Alibaba, told about two dozen incarcerated computer coders that learning Mandarin is a big plus, if they want to get a job with the E-commerce company.
Although the Chinese firm does not have a policy on hiring formerly incarcerated people, Stern said that his inspiration to be involved with San Quentin’s incarcerated population came after visiting the entrepreneurial program, The Last Mile (TLM).
TLM, established in 2012 by venture capitalists Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti, prepares prisoners for today’s business world by teaching them how to engage in social media and other new technologies. The nine-month program helps students develop business plans that are presented to corporate leaders during a Demo Day.
Redlitz and Parenti expanded TLM in 2014 by creating Code.7370, which is a computer-coding course. Since then, Stern has dropped into the Code.7370 class to inspire the students.
Prior to the Aug. 21 workshop, Stern prepared a PowerPoint presentation to show the incarcerated coders Alibaba’s rapid growth. It currently has surpassed Wal-Mart with over $1 trillion in sales.
The workshop began with Alibaba representatives using employer/potential employee role players to demonstrate the STAR system.
The STAR system role players show that when a potential employee understands an employer’s Situation (S) the job requirements are revealed. The role players then illustrate that potential employees must be able to identify the specific Tasks (T) that are needed to perform the job. Understanding the
Situation and Tasks allows a potential employee to understand what Action (A) he or she needs to take in order to secure the job. Successfully demonstrating these aspects would Result (R) in employers recognizing that the potential employees know the job and would be a successful hire.
At the end of the workshop, there was a question and answer session. Many of the coders’ questions centered on when to bring up former incarcerations to employers.
“When to bring up being incarcerated is important. Tell the employer what you’ve learned from your incarceration experience. Tell them about the programs that you’ve taken. Show them the change in your life. Look at it as an opportunity to demonstrate who you are at the time of your interview,” Stern told the incarcerated men.
Alibaba representative Tobie Louw told the incarcerated coders, “Thank you for letting us know about your world.”