Kids who have hope for the future tend to be successful in school and in life. This hope can come from caring adults who make time to connect with kids. Especially if they can share how and why they work where they do. This purpose and connection gives students reasons to hope, illuminate a path forward and contribute to developing the healthy and active workers our economy needs.
Here are three ways that volunteers can help students have hope today and build the workforce of tomorrow.
- Host a career fair. Career fairs are one way you can lift people out of poverty. For example, high schoolers attending the IT United Technology Career Fair talk with IT professionals about their work, watch demonstrations of innovative technologies, and imagine a better future for themselves. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County host the event on campus, so that teenage students can interact with college students like Katrina Hightower, who got a full-time IT internship at Manpower after volunteering at the fair.
- Invite students to the workplace. “Show, don’t tell” is Northwestern Mutual’s motto for how to plan a great experience for students. Students play games designed just for them to learn what it is really like to be a software developer, and interact with professionals throughout a day of activities.
- Teach the softer skills. United Way of San Diego County invites volunteers to help students with mock interviews and to visit classrooms to teach other essential soft skills, like being a good team player and communicator. Students also are hungry for “common sense” tips, such as wearing nicely ironed clothes to an interview and learning how to tie a necktie. Volunteers also organize professional clothing drives and “shopping days” at schools, where they help students choose appropriate attire for transitioning to the workforce.
These and other United Way volunteer opportunities address an increasing interest by companies in providing their employees with more personalized, skills-based volunteering. I hope you’ll volunteer to share your professional insights and skills, and inspire young people to stay in school, work harder while they are there and hope for a productive future.