How many centuries of work experience are in your Rotary Club? Could this be used to make a difference to your community?
After realising how many decades of career know-how its members held between them, the Rotary Club of Alexandra Headland, Qld, developed the WorkLife program to help mentor and support people transitioning to work for the first time. Since it was launched, the club has presented to high schools, university undergraduates, Rotaractors and job seekers, ranging from their teens to their late sixties. 
“The program was borne out of necessity. We had heard businesses complain kids were not ready for work, and schools complaining in turn businesses expect kids to contribute straight away,” said President John Malloy. “Few businesses nowadays are able to offer any meaningful mentorship – they are under so much pressure.” 
“Yet when I searched for information to help shape the WorkLife program I was very disappointed,” said John. “There are hundreds of books on resume writing and interview techniques, body language. However, regrettably, mentoring books were largely irrelevant to kids. They speak about becoming CEO and climbing the corporate ladder - nothing about what to expect when you first start work. Many students simply do not have the tools and practical examples to help them be positive, productive and deal with work situations. So these kids get depressed, or learn the wrong behaviours, and never reach their full potential.”
The program has received widespread community support, including a grant from the Sunshine Coast Council to assist with the development of an easy to read book on beginning
work. “Rotary has a unique advantage in this area and has credibility with the business sector and institutions and of course Rotary has extensive history with developing the young through RYLA and youth exchange,” said John.
Conscious they were of a different generation to today’s young job starters, the club was keen to ensure their message was relevant and appealing to the audience. The 175-page WorkLife book is filled with practical examples of real work stories drawn from the club members’ experience, with positive but realistic messages for the new work starter. The conversational style appeals to teachers, parents and students alike. It is also visually appealing, richly illustrated by a local art teacher Dean Jacobs and presented by a professional graphic designer. 
WorkLife has further expanded to include older jobseekers looking for a refresh of their job skills.  Recently the club ran a program for 20 adult ‘fresh start’ workers, as well as a program for 180 high school students. “The response has been extremely positive although the two groups were very different,” said Past President Peter Darnell. 
“We have pitched the program as interactive learning and change it to suit each age group to grab their interest. We have been pleasantly surprised by the feedback surveys telling us participants are really interested in the messages and learning from real work stories delivered by Rotarians in a relaxed environment.””
Want to know more? the club has visited High Schools, Universities and helped elders prepare for their transition to workplace. 
The courses are free, and run by professionals from all walks of life.