Remember the “good ol’ days?” When homework, growth spurts, and afterschool hangouts were your top concerns, and bills were…well, what bills?! Sure, everyone has had their own, unique adolescent experiences, but we were all 15-year-olds once, right?
Deciding on a career path upon entering college is no easy task, especially when you’re unaware of what options are out there available to you. That’s why, when the opportunity popped up to partner with Chicago’s Near North Development Corporation, you can bet Euromonitor jumped at the chance!
It all began in October, when Business Development Account Executive in Chicago, Jake Schario, met Izola Woods, Director of TRiO/Educational Talent Search and Upward Bound for Near North Development Corporation. Immediately he saw a potential perfect match…and boy was he right!
By the end of the month, we had held a kick-off call and the plan was set for eight high school students to come into our very own Chicago office for a full day of job shadowing! Specifically, we partnered with their Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search programs. Each is aimed at assisting first-generation college students and their families while still in high school.
On the morning of November 11, students began arriving at Euromonitor around 10am. After introductions by human resource representatives Katelyn Six and Dina Fox, a tour around the office ensued…and so did the audible “oohs” and “ahhs” as the students marveled at the breathtaking architecture and sheer magnitude of the workspace!
After gaining a better understanding of the company, a series of 15-minute presentations unfolded with one or two volunteers from each department representing their function. No matter what the students’ career interests were, there truly was something for everyone whether it be Sales, Research, IT, Communications, Design or Human Resources.
For Maurice Sanders, a 10th-grader at Orr Academy High School, this experience is one he will never forget. The Euromonitor employees he met taught him that, although scary, stepping outside of your comfort zone may be the first step toward the career of your dreams. Maurice explains:
“The job shadow showed me that when you go to college you do not have to stick with one thing you can always maneuver around and see what best fits you. Many people do not have chances like this so I believe if you have to chance to do something like this you should take the opportunity, when it’s over, do not just forget about it, hold onto that information because you never know what the future holds for you.”
Fellow sophomore Jamarya Matthews echoed Maurice’s sentiment, recalling how the presenters emphasized that you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself by sticking to your initial career path:
“It was surprising to know how in college you could want to be a lawyer and become a fashion designer. I feel I can take from that lesson because I want to be a pediatrician, but when I get to college I might take other classes and discover that I am interested in another career.”
The event certainly exceeded expectations – it was inspiring, truly eye-opening, and very visibly made an impact on the lives of the students involved. But the students weren’t the only ones impacted by this program; it also had a profound effect on the employees that participated. Some teared up after hearing the students’ shareout learnings, others admitted to having conquered public speaking fears by presenting to the group, and everyone agreed that this initiative was so powerful it should be repeated again.
Debra Senra, Director of North American Client Development represented the sales division and brought in two of her own team members, Katelyn Sprang and Marcus Shrewsbury, to join the conversation. With the same interminable fervor and grace she brings to every task, she shed light on the challenges and rewards of embarking on a career in sales, while fielding a frenzy of questions and comments. Her impression of the day hits the crucks of the program’s mission, as she explains:
“I thought it was great that we could expose young students to the business world; very few (if any) kids dream about being in business but it’s actually a great career path. I wish I had gotten more exposure to this world earlier on. I found the experience energizing; the kids were so energetic it was hard not to “catch” their enthusiasm.”
And the magnanimous group of presenters did not end there! Jake Ader, Support Team Leader for the Americas, elucidated the winding world of IT both in Chicago and globally, and what the evolution in this fast-paced field might mean for young professionals entering the workforce.
After lunch, the students spent the afternoon in the Communications and Design section of the office where they learned first-hand how Euromonitor videos, podcasts, and marketing collateral are produced. While most other presenters changed majors in college or shifted trajectories before landing in their careers today, Multimedia Production Manager Pete Kosmal and Audience Marketing Executive Ashley Joyce had a different story to bestow on the students. Calling themselves a “rarity,” Ashley explains that by showing them that you can find a role in your field of study, it will hopefully “impact their educational and job decisions.”
Similar to the presentation prior, when it came time for research, not one but two volunteers jumped at the opportunity to showcase both syndicated and consulting sides of the business.
Research Analyst, Eleanor Dwyer, admits that she may have taken as much out of the job shadow as the students did. After sharing lunch with the students, she was “inspired to find that many of them want to go into fields of service, like health care and education.”
Presenting alongside Eleanor, Associate Consultant Brianna Peterson highlights something that resonated with her personally:
“While having a conversation about professional development and college with these students, I was struck and impressed by how curious they were. I think in the workplace sometimes we can forget to ask questions that are genuine and looking for someone’s personal experiences and perspectives. I know I would’ve loved a completely open space for a conversation like this and I hope it was a really positive experience for them. “
But Brianna doesn’t just have to hope it was a positive experience, the feedback from the program’s director, Izola, proves it. We collectively made a significant impact in the lives of these eight high schoolers, and it’s something neither the students, nor the presenters, nor Izola will ever forget:
“As for my thoughts, I thought the experience was wonderful! My students learned that you can switch or choose to stay with your selected career interest and still be successful! They saw behind the scenes of an actual organization. This trip exposed them to think out the box.”
In the end, Euromonitor’s job shadow event with Near North Development Corporation was an undeniable success; one that will be remembered by everyone that participated. As we look to the future of Chicago, the U.S., and worldwide, there’s one fact that’s impossible to deny: It all starts with the children.