Prior Experience Not Required – Exploring Different Fields with Righteous Clothing

Gary Chiravalli of Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc, left back row; Mychal Shelton of Righteous Clothing, left front row; Centennial Transition Center students, middle; Sara Statham of Centennial Transition Center, right back row.

When you’re hunting for a job, one of the things that might stop you from applying to a business is not having any prior experience in the field. However, what if you had the opportunity to learn the trade while on the job?

This April, Dirkse CC arranged a facility tour for students from the Centennial Transition Center to explore the production area of Righteous Clothing, a promotional product company located in Clackamas. They learned about the process of screen printing and commercial embroidery at the facility, from taking the design from the computer and stenciling it on to a screen, to boxing up the finished clothing. As the students toured the facility, each employee that spoke was asked the same question – did you have experience in screen printing before working at Righteous? While some did, the majority of the employees were new to screen printing when they first came to the company. Clackamas local and Production Manager, Mychal Shelton, told the group that he found Righteous Clothing while driving down Highway 212 looking for a small-scale screen printer to make shirts for a friend. For Mychal, who had no experience in screen printing before Righteous, a job in the company’s warehouse doing fulfillment turned into a leadership position in the company and a 15-year long career.

When we look to hire new employees, the ideal candidate is someone who already knows how to complete the job. For someone that is entering the workforce for the first time or is looking to change field, this can be a barrier to gaining employment. Many individuals have transferrable skills that they learned in school or in another job that can make them an excellent candidate for a position, even if they don’t have the preferred field experience. Opportunities like facility tours and informational interviews can give job seekers a way to find out what experience is needed to enter into a field, letting them expand their job search to areas they didn’t know were available. Other opportunities, like working interviews, can also give employers the ability to meet a candidate and watch these transferable skills in action.

At Dirkse Counseling & Consulting, we encourage employers to take a look at the preferred qualifications in job postings to see how they can remove barriers in the application process and create opportunities to diversify their workforce. By making interviews more accessible, employers have a greater chance of meeting new employees who would have had their applications passed over because they don’t possess prior experience in the field.