Stay In School Saturday Workshops Help Teens Build Job Skills

Team leaders work in small breakout groups, where students participated in lively discussions and role-playing exercises.

Team leaders work in small breakout groups, where students participated in lively discussions and role-playing exercises.

What are your strengths?  How do your individual aptitudes and inclinations translate into skills and success traits in the workplace?  What are your career goals and what’s your plan to achieve them? These are questions professionals in any field must ask themselves early and often.  And on a recent Saturday morning, about 125 Chicago Public School students and their mentors worked together to find the answer to these questions and more.  On November 21, 2009 Exelon and United Way hosted the second Saturday workshop as part the Exelon-United Way Stay in School Initiative, which is aimed at improving the city’s high school graduation rates.      The theme of the second session was “Knowing Your Strengths.” Team leaders worked with small breakout groups, where students participated in lively discussions and role-playing exercises.  By the end of the workshop, the students had learned what to expect in a job interview and what to include in a resume.  Rashada Dawan of the Illinois Center for Violence Prevention gave the students their homework assignment for the next session – identify a “hero” in their field of interest to use him/her as a role model in developing their personal plan for success.    Upcoming sessions will offer intensive resume writing seminars, a “business boot camp” and one-on-one interview practice.   In the spring, students will attend a special networking event including professionals from United Way and Exelon.  Launched in 2004, the Saturday workshops are held throughout the school year and host high school students from three communities with the highest dropout rates in Chicago.  This year’s program kicked-off in October with a team building session at The Field Museum.  The group meets once a month for intensive, interactive career development and college preparation sessions held at Exelon headquarters with a team of Exelon and ComEd employees who serve as group mentors.       The Saturday workshop series will conclude with students interning for the summer at United Way and Exelon as well as at three community agencies serving youth – Centers for New Horizons, BUILD, and Youth Guidance.  The process is competitive and students will be placed based on interview performance and their personal strengths and interests. How successful is this initiative? Meet Mack, and he’ll tell you all about it. Click here for more pictures.