Cristo Rey's #CEOChallenge
COVID-19 has affected us all, especially your fellow Cristeros. The #CEOChallenge gives us the opportunity to highlight our corporate partners who demonstrate the incredible impact the Corporate Work Study Program has on both our students and their managers. We are also incredibly grateful for our corporate partners commitment to support Cristo Rey and the CWSP program in this time of uncertainty.
Big Shoulders Fund has been a beloved partner of Cristo Rey and Christ the King since 2010. For more than twenty-eight years, Big Shoulders Fund has helped Chicago’s children in need achieve their dreams through access to a quality, values-based education. Their mission and vision closely align with that of Cristo Rey, making our partnership so special.
Big Shoulders Fund CEO Josh Hale spoke about the partnership saying, “Big Shoulders Fund shares the great vision of ensuring all children have access to a quality education. Having the student workers at our office adds to our unbelievable team at Big Shoulders. I love working with all my coworkers – and Cindy and the other student workers are no different. Having them as part of our culture and team is a constant reminder of what we are really all about – and seeing the students, educators and the team together makes that possible. It’s a constant reminder and wonderful gift to our community, to our team and to me personally, to see the continued growth and success of the CWSP program.”
Josh has a unique perspective of Cristo Rey as a school employee during the founding years. Josh fondly recalls the collaboration of the education, civic and business communities jumping on board for a common purpose: to give all students access to education that prepares them to realize the dream that we all would want for ourselves and our children.
The Big Shoulders Fund team members—interns, managers, the CEO, all enjoy working together for their mission. The student workers, including Cristo Rey sophomore Cindy, are valued members of their incredible team.
For managers Laura, Matthew and Amanda, they are truly missing Cindy. Laura said, “Whether it was working on things around the office, preparing for an upcoming meeting or working in the database, we’re missing Cindy’s help and presence right now!. Cindy brings a quiet grace, diligence and a smile to our office. She has done great work for us and does so in an unassuming, calm, fantastic way – she’s also been really interested in learning all she can about the organization and how different departments work. Her receptivity to learning not only about the tasks she must accomplish but the organization as a whole is great. It is so wonderful to have a student presence. It really links us to our mission on a daily basis.”
Matthew went on to say, “We know it’s really tough for a high school student to come into a work place for a job – you’re around a bunch of people in suits that don’t look like you, act like you – it’s uncomfortable. What Cindy did that impressed me the most was she quietly came up to me and said ‘What do you need me to do? I finished this project, is there anything else I can help you out with?’ It really hit home with me that the work Cristo Rey does to prepare these kids to come into a place like Big Shoulders or any work place and have the courage to walk up to a peer and say that is a huge deal. To see that with my own eyes and experience was very impactful and again underscores the value of the mission of Big Shoulders and works congruently with the conjunction of our partnership with Cristo Rey and Christ the King.”
Amanda touched on the fact the students are going through a rough time with everything happening in the world right now. She misses connecting with Cindy in the mornings to hear about school and her personal life. Cindy is so graceful, kind and willing to help with anything and has been a great asset to the company. Amanda wants the students to stay focused on their education, to keep working hard, to be grateful for the opportunity and to use it to their advantage.
To be successful as a student worker at Big Shoulders Fund, Laura emphasizes adaptability, a can-do attitude, smile, and a go-getter nature to be able to take your job seriously and to demonstrate excellence—all of which Cindy has displayed with every task she has taken on at Big Shoulders.
Matthew has participated in Cristo Rey’s Summer Business Training, the foundational coursework for incoming freshman, and was disappointed that the pandemic has interrupted this highly-anticipated program. Matthew has seen firsthand the students’ ability to learn how to not feel intimidated and if they do to be prepared to ask questions. When students ask “what else can I do” it makes an indelible imprint on us as managers. And we remember it. The ability to connect with professionals through the CWSP is enormous. We all want to do that – we’re all happy to do that and the more we can encourage our students to do that – the better.”
Josh’s advice, advice he’s followed since his days working at Cristo Rey, is simply to be a student of life –whether that’s as a student in the classroom or workplace; always be learning and always be open to growth.
“I think we’re all learning during this pandemic – this is an education for all of us and the most important thing is to remain hopeful, to keep achieving and do more. And even though it’s hard sometimes, pick yourself up and keep going – continue to learn and grow as it will only make us stronger.”
“We were one of the initial participants in the Work Study Program (1996). The program involves hiring and mentoring young people and is complicated on both sides of the equation. We have been extremely fortunate to have had administrative personnel who have taken a keen interest in coordinating with Cristo Rey and advising these students as to how they should conduct themselves in the work place. I must say it has been a terrific experience for our company. A win-win.”
– John Buck, CEO
We are incredibly excited to feature our next #CEOChallenge corporate partner, The John Buck Company. As Mr. Buck mentioned, JBC has been with us since the beginning of the Corporate Work Study Program, first partnering in 1996. We are grateful for his steadfast support and the countless number of JBC employees who have taken our students under their wings for so many years. Today we highlight Lisa Sizemore, the beloved Manager of our four-student team comprised of freshman, Maritza C., sophomore Sofia L., junior Amanda S. and senior Ashley S.
The girls’ duties at the office range from depositing checks, scanning documents, creating presentations, delivering mail, running errands around the Loop and so much more. With Lisa’s guidance, they have learned the importance of communication, confidentiality and responsibility. Upon graduating from Cristo Rey, the proficiency, experience and bankable skills learned from Lisa and JBC will provide them the opportunity to excel in whatever career path they choose.
When asked what the girls enjoyed the most about working for JBC and Lisa, all four agreed that their time with Lisa has increased their ability to communicate effectively while building better organization skills. Ashley recalled, “When I first started sophomore year, I was nervous about the professional setting. Working with Lisa makes me feel really comfortable and confident working in a professional setting like JBC.”
Because of Lisa’s support and patience, Maritza feels more self-assured in both the office and at school. She went on to say, “JBC has a wonderful staff – all the people are great, and they treat you with such kindness.” Amanda is thankful for Lisa’s encouragement and endless motivation to always do her best. Lisa motivates the girls in the office and she genuinely cares about our student’s futures. “I cherish the questions Lisa always asked me, it helped make me realize what I want to do in the future,” says senior Ashley.
Lisa describes the girls as her “right-hands” in the office. Her day-to-day is extremely busy, but she knows that she can count on all four girls to work independently. In her own words, “We have such a strong group of girls. And what’s so good about the girls is that they are so smart.” Lisa has taught them invaluable skills, such as the necessity of carrying a notebook and pen at all times which has transferred over to helping with schoolwork. JBC coworkers will plan their day around the excellent help they provide the office. Fast-paced and busy, the student workers experience many of the same duties and responsibilities JBC employees face every day and “ace” them according to Lisa. When they’re not in the office, Lisa feels like her “right hands” are missing.
The girls had advice for future JBC student workers. Ashley’s advice is to not be afraid of the professional setting, even if it may seem hard in the beginning, and to be open to the experience. Amanda and Sofia emphasize the importance of saying hello to everyone you meet since you never know who you’ll work with next. They also agree that student workers should be open to growth as Lisa develops new tasks as students gain experience. Finally, Maritza advised future student workers to be yourself and open to constructive criticism. First impressions matter and are very important in the workplace, something she is taking away from her time at JBC this year. She ended with “Working for the John Buck Company has been a really great experience and taught me so many new job skills, I thank them so much!”.
While it’s bittersweet each year as one student worker graduates, Lisa knows she won’t have to worry about Ashley, who she describes as “very independent and mature”. She advised, “Read everything you can get your hands on, always take notes and remember to experience life!” For new student workers, “You have to be comfortable working independently.” Her final piece of advice, “Enjoy this experience – get your work done, learn new skills and different projects will come along. Working independently and being able to ask questions are the biggest things for a successful experience in a corporate setting like the John Buck Company.”
JBC and Mr. Buck – we are grateful for your commitment and your spirit. Let’s continue to spread positivity and highlight the amazing relationships between our students and CWSP managers. Up next for the #CEOChallenge: Big Shoulders Fund.
April 17, 2020
COVID-19 has affected us all, especially your Cristo Rey student workers. In our first #CEOChallenge, we highlight LaSalle Network as one of our corporate partners who demonstrates the incredible impact the Corporate Work Study Program has on both our students and their managers.
Seniors Lesley R. and Sammy A. have worked once a week for LaSalle Network throughout high school. Lesley put it best, “The energy LaSalle brings into everything they do is contagious. They show interest in me and celebrate our accomplishments.” While it has been weeks since they last were face to face, they finally had the chance to catch up with their managers, Jessica Schaeffer, Molly Reckinger and Sarah Lafontaine (Jessop) via Zoom.
Jessica, Molly and Sarah miss Lesley and Sammy’s smiles and positive attitudes the most, two qualities very much needed in our world right now. Lesley and Sammy miss working in the downtown office and interacting with their managers and co-workers. LaSalle Network has taught the girls to build skills from Microsoft apps to being able to hold meaningful conversations with their peers and colleagues, which has helped both academically and professionally.
It is apparent that Lesley and Sammy will be missed when they graduate this June. When asked to give advice to future student workers at LaSalle Network, they both agreed, “Take advantage of your time at LaSalle and don’t be afraid to engage!” Posing the same question to Jessica, Molly and Sarah, the answer was unanimous, “While the new student workers will have some very big shoes to fill, don’t be afraid to jump in – even if you’re shy, you can still show that you are willing to try things you’ve never tried before. Dive right in, don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to speak up!”
LaSalle Network and CEO Tom Gimbel - we are grateful for your commitment and your spirit. Let’s continue to spread positivity and highlight the amazing relationships between our students and CWSP managers! Up next for the #CEOChallenge: AmericanEagle.com
For our second #CEOChallenge spotlight, we highlight a first year corporate partner, Americaneagle.com, who demonstrates the incredible impact our Corporate Work Study Program has on both our students and their managers.
Americaneagle.com is an industry leader in professional website design, strategy, development and hosting. For student workers Anthony, Carolina and Jose, that means having the opportunity to work across the company to discover their interests within the industry. Managers Bethany Herrera, Miranda Simandl and Randy Rivero explained, “there are always new skills to learn and in turn we are learning how to use the students’ skills to improve our own industry.”
As a first year CWSP partner, it was difficult to anticipate where exactly the students’ strengths would align within the company’s work. Americaneagle.com took this as an opportunity to communicate with students and identify where their talents could thrive as they came on board.
Working at Americaneagle.com provides Anthony, Carolina and Jose technology-forward “jobs of the future”. Anthony has always wanted to learn how to program and hopes for a future in the web design industry so supervisor Bethany offered a more in-depth dive of web development to help guide him in his future career. Freshman Carolina wanted a range of tasks to feel it out, and that she received, with projects varying from advanced excel to website quality control and most projects have been described as “pretty fun!”
Americaneagle.com has two locations, HQ in Des Plaines and their Chicago Downtown office. The company was a pioneer in offering students remote work, as students have been supervised by both on- and off-site supervisors since August. While our students typically work in the Chicago office, they also receive projects from HQ. The two offices collaborate more efficiently because of the students help. Right now, they are identifying projects the students can work on remotely from home. Miranda wants to keep the students connected during this time away and has even provided a list of books to keep up with web development trends.
Bethany is enthusiastic about the program, saying, “the students communicate so well and possess such professional demeanor coming into the program. It’s refreshing to see such great kids who are already very professional and continue to improve in our environment. It’s a breath of fresh air.”
Overall, the managers enjoy being able to talk one on one with the students, learn about their background and help them grow in their professional skills. Carolina loves being exposed to so many new things that she has never seen before. Anthony and Jose love how nice everyone is and miss their coworkers. As for the thing they all miss most…the free muffins on Friday in the cafeteria!
While the muffins may be missed, they will return in time along with the employees and students. Anthony’s advice as a senior is, “It is very important to put yourself out there and talk to your coworkers and supervisors. It will go a long way in developing your professional skills.” For freshman Carolina, next year she is looking forward to more growth in her speaking skills and gaining more experience with new and interesting tasks assigned to her.
As far as Bethany, Miranda and Randy’s advice to future student workers, “Be ready for new experiences with this internship – managers from all different departments are happy to give work so that our students have the opportunity to touch all areas of the company. Don’t be afraid to get up and introduce yourself to someone every single day – as many people as you can. Ask them what they do and be confident in knowing that while they may look busy, they are always willing to chat!”
Tony Svanascini, Americaneagle.com’s CEO shared with us, “This is our first year participating in the Cristo Rey CWSP, and we've been very impressed by the dedication of the advisers and students. We have learned just as much as the students have this school year, and even though we're not able to be in the same building working alongside each other, we know the students are focusing on their education. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to reconnect through this challenge and we look forward to staying connected throughout the rest of the school year.”
Americaneagle.com and Tony Svanascini – we are grateful for your commitment and your spirit. Let’s continue to spread positivity and highlight the amazing relationships between our students and CWSP managers. Up next for the #CEOChallenge: The John Buck Company.