2020 offered anything but a 20/20 vision into the immediate future. However, thanks to Fana Yohannes, founder and mentor at Here2Help, recent graduates and those whose careers were affected by COVID are feeling significantly less hopeless!
Fana Yohannes is a Public Relations extraordinaire and a Consumer Communications Manager at Instagram where she shares stories behind the moments influencing culture on IG. Her devotion to community and empowerment shine through her initiative, @Here2Help.
What is Here2Help?
Here2Help is Yohannes’s Instagram-based mentorship initiative that pairs professionals who are unemployed due to COVID and 2020 – 2021 graduates with mentors across a variety of industries. These mentors volunteer their time and offer stellar career advice.
She created Here2Help at a crucial time for the country as the U.S. is down nearly 10 million jobs. The unemployment rate for recent grads increased from 8.4% to 24.4% between spring 2019 to spring 2020 and continues to yield concerning statistics.
Here’s how it works: Every other Sunday, Here2Help posts IG stories of mentors that list their fields of expertise and professional experience – their DM’s are open for 24 hours for mentees to reach out. Yohannes even goes a step further by providing detailed descriptions on how to best present yourself when networking.
If you’d like to get involved as either a mentor or mentee, simply follow @Here2Help on Instagram and look out for those Sunday stories!
I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Yohannes and getting her personal takes on the dream for Here2Help and all the incredible things it has offered so far:
Kulture Hub (KH): What is the story of Here2Help and what does Here2Help mean to you?
Fana Yohannes: We’ve seen recessions come and go [but what’s] unique about this time is that we have social media.
What this means to me is, is everything. [I] didn’t intend to start this program, [it started] kind of on accident.Fana Yohannes, 2021
Last year, [I] attended a career panel with some of my [communications] idols like Yvette Noel-Schure (Beyonce’s publicist) and Vanessa Anderson (Issa Rae’s publicist)… My takeaway was you really have the position of privilege to help others no matter who you are.
This time is [a] great equalizer because everyone from top CEOs to interns are all at home. So I posted on my Instagram that I’m opening up my DMs to help five people. I drafted a decline note for people [who reached out past the 5], but the thing that I’m proudest of is that I’ve never had to send that decline out [as so many people volunteered to mentor].
We’ve grown to over 200 mentors and helped host about 2500 one on one mentee mentor sessions.Fana Yohannes, 2021
KH: How would you describe Here2Help’s mentors?
Fana Yohannes: Here2Help is powered by 200+ volunteer mentors who’ve discovered the program by word of mouth.
We’ve been lucky to recruit great mentors, from [top] companies like Apple, Netflix, Google, Facebook, Instagram, and everywhere in between [as well as some] amazing startups. A lot of people in the mentor seat are looking for ways to give back.
People just want to help! I’ve been blown away by the response at how many people are willing to raise their hands and open their DMS to help other people.Fana Yohannes, 2021
We’ve had mentors who were unemployed during the 2008 recession and want to share their learnings [with] people who now are going through similar things. We have mentors who are first-generation college students who want to look out for other first-gen professionals.
My influence on the mentor side of things is very small, I just [help] connect the dots and create [a] community where people can connect…. Each of the mentors run their own program and [share] their own expertise and advice. It’s created an awesome ecosystem in itself!
I just wanted to remind people that there is a community out there if they need it, because, it’s a really lonely and tough time.Fana Yohannes, 2021
KH: How has social media shaped the career landscape?
Fana Yohannes: [Here2Help is] intentional about [being] on Instagram. LinkedIn…is a great job searching tool. However, mentors aren’t always checking LinkedIn, because if they already have a job, [I find that] they’re less inclined to [be on the site].
Instagram works well because in today’s landscape of social media… mentors who are active on Instagram are plugging their projects, [but more than that, DM’s are so accessible].
A lot of people don’t think about reaching out to potential mentors on Instagram, because they get a bit intimidated [and assume they should use] LinkedIn.Fana Yohannes, 2021
Instagram… makes it easier for people to connect….and it’s more casual, it takes the pressure off of having to be introduced to somebody. [Mentorship] can have a multi-faceted approach and [doesn’t always need] to be formal.
“I’m really fascinated by drop culture and sneaker culture. So, with Here2Help you have 24 hours to [contact mentors], because [our stories only last 24 hours]. You only have a very short window of time to shoot your shot, which is what encourages the dynamics of this program to work so well!”Fana Yohannes, 2021
There’s no one size fits all approach anymore to networking on social media apps, because there are so many different avenues of possibilities.
KH: Do you have any specific networking advice?
Fana Yohannes: Always do your research! Know who the person is, read articles about them, read a couple of their social posts, and [try to understand] who this person is before you meet with them.
Pay attention to where your audience is. If you have a mentor that’s active on Twitter, and not on Instagram or LinkedIn, send them a DM!
When reaching out to somebody [by] sending a cold message, be specific about what your ask is. It’s hard for mentors to cover all bases in a 30-minute chat. After research, figure out one or two questions that you want to ask this person. When you send your note to them, be concise, be direct and:
Have a call to action of what you hope to accomplish on a call with them!Fana Yohannes, 2021
Your mentor doesn’t need to be one person, [think of your mentors] as a board of directors. You want someone with creative insights, [someone with a role that you want in the future], someone who’s a realist, [etc.]
Delegating different questions to different people is great because that helps you create goals for your conversations. [This way], you’re not exhausting all options with one mentor.
KH: What are some of your favorite Here2Help success stories?
Fana Yohannes: The Here2Help effect is definitely real! One of our first mentees [was a 2020 graduate who had] interned at [almost] every music label. She [was wondering if she should] take another…assistant gig at [a] label or [try out for] an entry-level position. [Through mentorship and community networking] she [pivoted to a music coordinator role at] Tik Tok.
Another mentee [I’m thinking of was] furloughed [when] she found us. She pivoted and mentored her way [to] be an operations specialist at Spotify. We’ve even helped entrepreneurs who were impacted by the COVID market connect with executives!
KH: What do you think the power of community is, right now?
Fana Yohannes: Community [helps] people know they’re not alone in a time that’s so isolating. We pride on [accepting] anyone who’s qualified [for Here2Help] right away. This program is as much the community’s as it is mine.
So I think the element of community here is the proof of concept of inspiration.Fana Yohannes, 2021
Community is the foundation of how this program works because you get what you put into it. If you’re engaged [and] willing to learn… [you’re met with] hundreds of people who are open and willing to help you.
In the last year… we’ve seen a lot of racial injustice happening in black communities and Asian communities… I’m grateful for this community [offering] grounding for the people who need it most right now.
I hope that when people look back on this time, they can see that compassion and community are actually what got us through.Fana Yohannes, 2021
How to get involved!
If you’d like to get involved as either a mentor or mentee, simply follow @Here2Help on Instagram, DM the page, and keep an eye out for those Sunday stories!
With Here2Help, the power lies within the people. Thanks to Fana Yohannes, the strength of community has cleared the smoke of loneliness and confusion around career searching. In the words of Here2Help’s motto: we can’t wait to see what you do next!