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Freshmen Students Explore the Workplace, Virtually


This fall, for the first time in Cristo Rey’s 25-year history, students did not deploy to offices for in-person professional work experiences. Instead, the Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) has expanded remote work opportunities and training for a safe return to offices in 2021.

Students unable to work remotely participate in weekly, targeted professional development activities, including Microsoft Excel Certification training and a leadership curriculum designed by Accenture. Freshman students participate in the rigorous First Year Business Institute, replacing the two-week, intensive business training that typically occurs during the summer before freshman year. 

Perhaps the most anticipated part of the traditional freshman training is the Company Exploration field trip, where students tour an office and participate in Q&A with employees who might soon become their co-workers.  In this year’s virtual format, students still had the opportunity to hear directly from supervisors and company leaders, gaining a deeper understanding of organizations, their structures, and the roles and functions of various departments. 

Five partner companies - Gibsons Restaurant Group, Latham & Watkins, LKQ, SEIU and The John Buck Company - spent a morning virtually hosting these freshmen students.  Employees gave them a virtual tour of the office and answered great  questions such as, “Does your company have a motto to get motivated?”; “What does success look like in your department?”; and “Why does your department hire Cristo Rey workers?”

The employees from LKQ were especially excited to meet the Class of 2024.  Representatives from each department where the students work, including Accounting, Audit, Finance, and Legal, were able to give insight into the student experience at their company.  LKQ President and CEO, Dominick Zarcone, also Chair of Cristo Rey’s Board of Directors, attended the session and spoke to students.

The team at LKQ shared that “The Company Exploration was well organized by Cristo Rey.  LKQ Corporation looks forward to mentoring Cristo Rey students every year and in light of our current situation, we were excited to be able to present our company to the freshmen class.  We were delighted by the inquisitive nature of the students in learning more about us in our Q&A session and look forward to the day when we can welcome the students back into our offices to continue that learning.”

Students and job partners eagerly await the day they can safely return to their work assignments in person.  In the meantime, experiences such as the Company Exploration class give freshmen students exposure to the professional environment they will soon become part of.