On an October afternoon, Parallon’s Mammoth Cave Conference Room is a riot of sound. Older teens and young adults, many wearing fake mustaches, and some wearing more than one, laugh and chat over pizza. The mustaches were part of a gift bag given to students participating in Parallon’s Disability Mentoring Day.
Thirteen Pleasure Ridge Park (PRP) High School students age 16 and over shadowed employees of six different departments at Parallon to get a sense of what kinds of jobs are out there beyond minimum wage options for teens and new grads.
Parallon is a place where careers are built. The Nashville-based company supports hospitals and healthcare systems with a broad spectrum of business and operational services, including medical collections.
Parallon invests in its workers, hiring people with limited experience and helping them build the skills they need to earn well beyond what would be possible with an average entry-level position. A stellar insurance package and monthly performance bonuses are some reasons why it’s been named a Best Place to Work in Kentucky for 11 years running.
Disability Mentoring Day is just a part of Parallon’s community commitment. Parallon has developed a new position of transfer agent, whose duty it is to connect clients with collection specialists, and are leveraging their partnership with the Coalition for Workforce Diversity to try and hire more people with disabilities into the organization.
Connecting students with the workforce
Brittany Hill, a post-secondary transition resource teacher with JCPS, who connects students with employers, explained, “What we’re doing is reaching out to different companies throughout Metro Louisville and asking if they would allow students to tour their facilities. They get a feeling for what type of positions are out there besides your local restaurants.”
Earlier, in the mailroom, students Sierra London and Chris Weihebrink worked one-on-one with Parallon team members Trina Knox and Dave Fisher. The tiny room, not much bigger than a large closet, is where thousands of pieces of mail are processed each day. The job requires strong organizational skills, and duties shift daily (even hourly), depending on the demands of the business.
Both students are already employed, but their experience at Parallon gave them a glimpse into possibilities outside the retail and customer service sector.
“I didn’t know the mail job would be so easy,” said Weihebrink, who works a retail job. Everyone laughed.
“There are a lot of processes to go through. We could have made it harder for you,” Knox teased, with a grin.
“I thought mail was really hard,” said Weihebrink.
“It’s something you can do, though. You’re confident you could do it?” said Fisher. Weihebrink nodded in agreement. “They did a great job. They opened mail; they ran the postage machine.”
Finding common ground
Adam Cecil, Parallon’s newest addition to the HR team, mentored two students. They did some paperwork together that demonstrated some of the organizational skills necessary for the position. The highlight for him, though, was bonding with them.
He told them about his path within the company, starting in the collections department. “We got to know each other,” he said. One student is an artist, the other is in marching band. They talked about shows they liked, and found common ground.
“It’s fascinating to get to know what the kids are looking for — to try to teach them to see what they want in life.” He’s heartened to be able to participate in community outreach as a part of his job. “This is the first company I’ve ever worked with that’s done hands-on work with the schools.”
A place to be yourself
Eli Burton got the chance to shadow one of Parallon’s security guards. He said this security position isn’t as intimidating as he’d imagined. He’s been applying for jobs but hasn’t had luck so far, “Sometimes it gets me discouraged,” he said, “but I feel like this will make me want to apply for more things.”
Alissa Davis, a 16-year-old who’s worked in fast food and childcare, was excited by The Good Idea Wall. Davis shadowed members of Parallon’s Employee Engagement Task Force, which actively solicits feedback from workers. The wall is a place where people can post concepts about how to improve Parallon. If the company uses the idea, the worker is paid for it. That impressed Davis.
“I think that when I’m 17, 18, I’m going to try to get a job here,” she said. She noted that there seem to be more opportunities here than at a typical fast-food job. “Here you can express yourself,” she said.
If you are ready to break out of a dead-end job, Parallon is ready to meet you. Is there a career for you at Parallon? Why not schedule an interview and find out?