Work It Up: A New Model for Job Groups?

Work It Up logoInitiated in May 2009 by a group of unemployed project managers who met a the Portland, Maine, Career Center’s Unemployed Professionals Group, Work It Up is a nonprofit organization designed to address the “two halves of the broken economy”: unemployed professionals like themselves, and underfunded small businesses, nonprofits, and self-employed individuals.

It does so by matching the skills of unemployed professionals – sometimes after basic training in project management – with the needs of small organizations in the community. The team does an assessment, the client chooses a short-term project, which the team completes. The client merely pays an administrative fee to cover those costs; the professional’s services are free, much like an unpaid internship.

And like an internship, the unemployed worker’s benefits include being productive, having a recent accomplishment to highlight in a resume or an interview, and adding a new reference.

Another approach Work It Up has taken is offering its professional members’ services as a “trial period” to small business that are growing. When the businesses are ready to hire, these workers are more likely to make it to their short lists. Even with no opening, the professionals have new networking connections with executives and hiring managers at the business.

It’s a win-win model, so much so that one of the co-founders has committed to Work It Up full-time. Now that it has formal nonprofit status, it can accept donations and grants, which it will need to move from all-volunteer staff to full-time paid staff for the long term.

Need I say that many participants have gotten jobs? Internships work. The proof is in the results.


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