For the Hetrick-Martin Institute, the largest and first organization in the U.S. supporting LGBTQ+ youth, unleashing a young person’s potential involves creating a safe space for personal development while equipping them for the future of work.

Not only is it critical for a young person to have a safe space, there’s a great need for them to develop skills to reach their full potential. With support from Fossil Foundation, HMI designed its career readiness program to reduce the particular effects of harassment and abuse that LGBTQ+ youth often face while charting a new career path. The program offers multiple tiers of employment training in areas like security, retail, hospitality, STEM-related fields and more. Two years ago, HMI also launched a Queer Coders digital learning program that offers training and networking opportunities with professionals in the technology and science industries.

Beyond technical skills, the foundation of HMI’s job readiness training is built on fostering essential skills—confidence, self-advocacy, collaboration and independence—and helping youth understand why they matter. Here are three skills HMI fosters in young people to help them chart their own paths:


“Through HMI, I learned how to manage myself professionally as well as build relationships with brands through networking. As I’m starting a small business and representing myself as an artist and entrepreneur, I’ve gained skills like marketing, budgeting, projecting needs, and creating revenue.”

Jayne, Job Readiness Training Intern

Code Switching:

“HMI’s job readiness training placed me in an internship that taught me ‘code switching’ and gave me a vocabulary to understand ways people try to meet expectations of a professional work environment. We learned how professionalism is often rooted in oppression and how we can find community at work.”

Adrian, Job Readiness Training Intern

Building New Career Paths:

“Before going into Queer Coders, I was very unsure of what my career path would be. I could not see myself fitting into the cookie cutter mold of what a professional looked like, especially in the tech industry where there is a lack of diversity. When I joined Queer Coders, I learned professionalism, the concept of code switching and what a work environment is like. This was very empowering and a motivation for me to aim higher in terms of my career goals. Queer Coders gave me the confidence to recognize as a women of color, I can still strive in a male-dominated industry.”

Kayla, Queer Coders Participant

Learn more about Fossil’s campaign to support HMI’s youth by visiting the Make Time For Good page at

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