I tried volunteering at a couple of city high schools this year. It was an interesting experience for me in many ways.
When we had volunteer orientation it was pointed out that all we can do is show up, tell our stories, and hope that we have touched someone or many in the class. High school kids don’t seem to give much feedback, so we were cautioned to be patient and just do our thing; the results may manifest years later.
That was good advice as talking to a group of high school kids is challenging. It is hard to get and keep their attention. I don’t know if it is different in the city than in the suburbs, but my interest was in the city where kids may need more encouragement and motivation to continue their educations and find meaningful careers. The program is part of an organization called “Achieve Minneapolis” that brings us in to help make the kids become college and career ready. I think it is a good program although it may encourage college more than it should; trade schools are a great option for many of these kids.
I also participated in a couple of career fairs where we volunteers talked to classes about their careers or met with them in a career fair setting. This is needed at all schools I think, in order to get students thinking about different ways to make a living of which there are many. I liked the one on one setting best where the students would open up more.
Part of my interest is in passing on concepts I wrote about in my book; again, not my wisdom but wisdom I have collected from tried and true sources. The students perked up when I told them my story; I think we all like to hear other people’s stories. I also offered and sent free eBooks to any student who was interested, in hopes that it would help someone. That is the purpose of it.
Well I never heard from anyone so thought they didn’t read it, didn’t like it or didn’t care. Then last night I got this email from a student from South High School who I met at their career fair. I think any teacher will agree that the reward from teaching isn’t the money; it is those moments when you find that you have touched someone and made a difference.
So when I got this email it was like payday! I am sharing it to show other volunteers that they may make a difference too…if they try!
“Hey Rob, first off I will say that I enjoyed talking to the job fair that you attended at my high school, South in Minneapolis. I was the tall guy thinking about majoring in Finance in college. I learned a lot from talking to you and even more from the book you wrote. After you sent me the book I actually wanted to print it out so I did and carried a highlighter with me to highlight parts that I can go back to easily to remind myself of it. Your book helped me a lot. I’ve only got about 3 weeks left of high school and I am left with a lot of decisions that have to be made and will be made eventually and reading your book in my spare time from work and school I found that sorting out my thoughts became easier and your book helped me to organize them. Thanks again Rob for your advice, giving me access to your book, and simply sharing your story with me!”