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The Power of the Volunteer


Today we hosted a meeting for the businesses who are participating in Sophomore Site Visits. Over 55 local businesses are hosting 10th graders for an interactive tour and discussion at their place of business this spring.

Alignment Rockford aligns community resources to the needs of the Rockford Public Schools. A new College and Career Readiness benchmark for RPS is all 10th graders must visit a business, so it’s our job to ensure we’re making quality and relevant business connections for our students.

The Sophomore Site Visits are only 90 minutes long, but if you talk to last year’s sophomores who participated, you would come away from that conversation knowing it was a valuable experience for the students who participated.

During our lunch meeting today, we discussed what makes a good (and not so good) Sophomore Site Visit. The best way to illustrate this was to hear from the businesses that participated last year.

Goodwill’s Sam Schmitz and Courtney Gieger, along with the YMCA’s Tabatha-Endres-Cruz, discussed last year’s visits with today’s meeting attendees.

Here are some of the things they shared:

  • Be interactive: give a tour; role play; show the software you use; show what it’s really like to have your career (what you like AND what you don’t like)
  • If you give the students your business cards, be available if they contact you
  • Hand out actual job descriptions from your business
  • Don’t just focus on what you do, also discuss what it took to get there (educational attainment)
  • Discuss the type of personality that might work best for particular jobs (for example, does your job require you to speak in front of people?)
  • Discuss the soft skills needed for your job (team work, collaboration, etc.)
  • Don’t make broad generalizations like “Kid’s today are so…”
  • Don’t use industry jargon
  • Don’t sit students around a table and show a PowerPoint
  • Be aware that some students may be shy. If you have a Q & A, break students up into small groups. They may be willing to have an open dialogue with you that way
  • Most importantly, have fun!!
  • And don’t feed them cream filled long johns and mountain dew (a joke…sort of)

Sam ended their presentation by saying, while we want this to benefit the students above everything else, we also hope the Sophomore Site Visits will be a catalyst for more business engagement within our schools. Sam said, “I’ve been involved with Alignment Rockford since it’s inception and I can safely say it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.”

We can’t do what we do without our business partners. If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact us! 779.774.4389 or

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