Volunteer Spotlight: Empowering Our Freshmen for Success

Sep 8, 2023 | CWSP, School News

They always say ‘It takes a village,’ and in this case, we see that phrase played out in full effect when prepping our freshmen for the school year at Cristo Rey St. Martin. Over 80 volunteers played an integral part in getting the Class of 2027 ready this summer through a rigorous and exciting 2 weeks of speed-networking, mock customer service calls, and creative shark tank pitches. Our volunteers came from far and wide across the northern Chicagoland area. Some were our own CRSM staff members, Board Members, benefactors, and many were CRSM business partners from companies such as AbbVie, UL Solutions, and Grainger. These events gave the freshmen some insight into real-life corporate America and prepared them for the school year, Corporate Work Study, and ultimately life after school.

The speed-networking event consisted of 62 total volunteers. This event was meant to mimic speed-dating in a more professional sense. Students practiced their professional networking and conversational skills in 3-minute periods. Networking is an important part of corporate success, and it was amazing that so many people came out to help our students develop this skill.

22 generous volunteers participated in the mock customer service call event where the volunteers pretended to be upset customers calling with complaints on the phone, and the students had to be the customer service representatives and resolve the problem. This gave the students insight into what it was like to implement problem-solving skills in a professional setting and remedy situations in which customers may be upset with them.

The shark tank event was one of the most exciting events for our students to experience. Eight volunteer judges came out to assess student pitches on products or businesses that they designed. The students were put into groups where they created the product or service, presented in the form of a slideshow, and identified key departments within a company that would assist in launching their pitch. One volunteer judge, Joshua Taddeo, Senior Manager of Channel Strategy and Performance at UL Solutions, spoke to the importance of events like these for students. Taddeo expressed that “there are so many scenarios in business and in life where developing a clear message and influencing an audience to support your decision is vital.” The main objective behind the event was allowing students to feel more comfortable presenting in front of an audience.

“Being able to speak in front of others will also be a regular occurrence in business regardless of your chosen position. Learning to be comfortable presenting in group sessions will make day-to-day interactions in business easier. Clear and comfortable communication between team members helps everyone focus on what they need to do to achieve mutual goals,” stated Taddeo, emphasizing the importance of the shark tank event.

These summer workshops would not have been possible if it weren’t for our community of volunteers and Corporate Work Study business sponsors and partners. Our volunteers made this a possibility and gave our freshmen the confidence they need to begin the school year, their Corporate Work Study careers, and, just possibly, their future professional careers.