Keeping it Profesh’ at Thinkery Austin
by Katie Cox
When asked to define professionalism, twenty high school students participating in Austin Bat Cave’s professional development workshop last Saturday landed on the word “respect.” Respect for oneself, one another, and everything in between. It was the perfect foundation for the entire day, as our volunteers and students gathered for seven hours at the Thinkery in order to develop and practice professional communication skills. This is the fourth year that Austin Bat Cave has partnered with the Thinkery’s “VolunTeen” program. The program gives teenagers the opportunity to engage in meaningful volunteer work while simultaneously preparing them for what they describe as “twenty-first century skills.”
The agenda for the day was loaded. Our ABC volunteers enthusiastically introduced themselves and dove right into sharing examples of professional emails and sample resumes, encouraging students to ask critical questions and adopt a language suitable for the workplace. A major portion of the morning was spent guiding students through the process of drafting their own resume. Skills like playing in a school orchestra or knowing a second language were eloquently transformed into a diverse array of professional skills and experiences, all aimed at making these students’ resumes stand out among the crowd!
After lunch, students practiced their public speaking and interview skills through mock interviews with one another. While there was probably much more giggling involved than in real interviews, each student left the practice feeling much more confident and comfortable with their ability to communicate their ideas and expertise.
Sounds like serious stuff. That didn’t stop these teens from having fun, though! Whether it was an “extreme rock-paper-scissors” tournament or a few rounds of “two truths and a lie” (who knew so many people had turtles for pets?), students spent just as much time building meaningful relationships with their peers as they did focusing on their own professional development. By the end of the day, they not only left with a more effective communication skills but also a wider network of friends and peers to challenge and encourage them along the way.
We had a blast! Huge shoutout to our volunteers, Avani, Lane, and Charley for being such incredible teachers and facilitators, as well as the Thinkery for hosting us!