The IPI Showroom houses IPI’s sales, customer service and marketing staff along with five Mitchellville offenders. Each day, these women are transported to the showroom in Des Moines.
The offenders training the IPI Showroom are near the end of their sentences, and they are housed in ICIW’s minimum live out unit. Their jobs at IPI allow them to be away from the prison and engage with society in a supervised environment. This is an excellent step for these women in their reentry process.
“Things that people in everyday life take for granted, we don’t know anything about, so it’s like we’re constantly playing catchup,” one offender said, “And I think you’re given opportunities here to learn those things that you wouldn’t anywhere else being locked up.”
While performing calling campaigns, the women memorize scripts, reach out to current and potential customers, and record information in the call center software. They learn Windows 10 and Microsoft Office and were recently given limited email access to allow them to share files and correspond within the showroom staff. In January, they started calling on all orders placed with IPI to confirm delivery information and other details. Soon, they will start reaching out to customers after orders are delivered to ensure the products meet the customer’s expectations.
Up until December 2016, the offenders at the IPI Showroom performed tasks such as cleaning and office assistant jobs. Since then, the Showroom has re-vamped its reentry efforts to provide as much value to these offenders as possible. Today you can find the offenders at the IPI Showroom answering phones, performing campaign calls and entering data on the computers.
“I’ve learned everything from how to use a tool to how to put furniture together. I’ve learned a lot about my computer. Every day I learn something new,” said an offender.
When a customer calls the IPI Showroom, it is likely an offender answers and directs the call to the appropriate staff. Offenders are learning professionalism, patience, customer service, conflict resolution and overall communication skills that are extremely important in society jobs.
Another offender said, “This has taught me that I can be a real person no matter where I am. As long as I know what I am doing and I put my full potential to what I am supposed to do.”
The women at the IPI Showroom are encouraged to put the skills they have learned on their resumes. Once hired by the Showroom, offenders are often employed until release. Their IPI jobs give them a time management structure similar to that of society jobs. Most importantly, the offenders at the IPI Showroom are developing confidence and self-worth.