Imagine the owners of a staffing firm giving a talk to a room full of people. Who are the audience members? Fellow business professionals, job seekers, university students about to graduate? What about high school students?
Though high school students may be several years away from starting their careers and utilizing StaffBuffalo’s services, Partners Maggie Shea and Lauren Lewis are deeply committed to giving back to the next generation of workers, especially at their alma mater, Nardin Academy. From leading workshops to giving presentations, Maggie (class of ‘03) and Lauren (‘02) are always looking for ways to share their wisdom and expertise with current Nardin students. They believe this helps not only the school, but StaffBuffalo and the Buffalo community as a whole.
Nardin Academy, founded in 1857, is a private, independent Catholic academy made up of three schools, which strive to maximize student potential, engage students with the world, and enrich Nardin community life. The all-girls high school gives students numerous opportunities to participate and lead in sports, arts and technology. In 2011, the school opened the Fatta Center for the Arts, home to professional-grade orchestra and music study rooms and dance studios. Nardin is also working towards 70-minute periods every other day, which allows for more depth and time for reflection, and has moved away from Regents exams. The school year has been divided into two semesters, with a “Winter Mission” in January between the two semesters. Yet Nardin’s alumnae say the school’s welcoming atmosphere has not changed at all.
“I am so impressed with the curriculum changes and the expansion of science, technology, arts, music, community involvement, and post-high school preparedness,” says Maggie. “It would be an honor to be a student at Nardin, as they continue to focus on the student experience and student success.”
Nardin’s commitment to experiential learning outside of the classroom has resulted in the brand-new ‘WinterMission’ program, offered in lieu of Regents week in January. With over 20 sessions - including academic intensives, internships, global travel and service - WinterMission is in alignment with Nardin's own mission: inspiring hearts and minds to do amazing things for the world through faith, character, academic excellence and service.
During the Classroom to Career session, students had the opportunity to shadow Nardin alumnae at significant local companies including Rich Products and Roswell Park. In other sessions, Nardin students traveled to Costa Rica, Italy or Washington D.C., while still others volunteered in Buffalo at nonprofits like Cornerstone Manor and City Mission. Some students even had the opportunity to create quilts and refinish furniture for local families in need.
Maggie and Lauren were invited to work with students throughout the Classroom to Career session, organized by fellow Nardin alumna Caitlin Logue Rush. During the “Resume Reality” presentation on Monday, Maggie and Lauren discussed a number of topics, including creating a professional resume and social media presence, obtaining internships, and networking. Gaining work experience while in college helps students to figure out what they do/don’t want to do, while building a stronger resume.
“If you want to be in the corporate world and you are going to college, choose a major that has Career Progression,” recommends Maggie. “You can always follow your passions on the side and turn it into a career after you get a foundation of work experience, which will only help you in the long run!”
That Friday, Maggie also participated on a panel which judged team presentations on the companies that students visited as well as what they learned from WinterMission, including the most impactful session, what surprised them the most, what they learned from working in a team, and the effect WinterMission had on their future plans. She provided feedback on the students’ presentations and professionalism that they can take into their future classes and job search.
“It was an honor to help these future leaders identify new career paths and see all of what Buffalo can offer them!” says Maggie.
Earlier in the fall, Lauren spoke to Nardin students as part of the Alumni Speaker Series, detailing her path from Nardin, to pharmaceutical sales, to owning a business! She also received the Distinguished Alumna Award at the 2018 Founder's Dinner for her involvement and loyalty to the school, including serving as Nardin’s Buffalo Alumni Chapter Chair.
“I think it is super important to stay connected to Nardin because I value the education that I received from there and appreciate the Nardin community,” says Lauren. “It is great to be able to be a resource to the students and help them navigate ‘Life After Nardin.’ I also love being able to stay connected to other alums in WNY. It is important that we all support each other, network with each other, and learn from each other.”
Through WinterMission, Nardin students are able to have a tangible impact on the Buffalo community, but the aim is for that impact to continue long after graduation. As a college preparatory school, Nardin achieved a 100% 4-year college placement with its Class of 2018, and just under half of the students went to New York State schools. Even for students who stay local for college, the majority still search for opportunities outside of Buffalo upon graduation. Yet that trend may be changing, influenced by regional job growth in medical technology and startups, and the low cost of living.
Maggie and Lauren have a strong understanding of the impact that local graduates have on the Buffalo community and job market. StaffBuffalo team members include graduates of Canisius College, University at Buffalo, and Niagara University, and both Maggie and Lauren returned to Western New York after getting their Bachelor’s degrees out of the area.
“Here at StaffBuffalo, we are invested in Buffalo as a whole,” says Maggie. “If we can make an impact on the preparedness of the future workforce to help them improve Buffalo, that is a win for us! We enjoy giving sound advice to both job seekers and companies, to help them improve the overall work experience.”
Caitlin Rush, Classroom to Career Session Organizer, was an active member of Nardin’s rowing team along with Lauren and Maggie. She went on to attend both Canisius College and the University at Buffalo after graduating, and decided to stay in the Buffalo area for her professional career. She is now Associate Director of the Office of Internships and Experimental Learning at UB, which serves School of Management students as well as employers across industries interested in collaborative learning opportunities.
“Local graduates have a tremendous impact on the Buffalo community and economy,” says Caitlin. “I think [Nardin] is just starting to tap into the impressive accomplishments of our local alumnae through their XBlock talks and engaging in different WinterMission opportunities.”
“Another huge advantage of [Maggie and Lauren’s] continued involvement with Nardin is seeing our alumnae be so successful in the community and so generous with their time and talents,” she adds. “Lauren and Maggie serve as great role models for the students and a wonderful reminder of the importance of giving back to Nardin in the future.”
In the end, providing advice and resources to high school students creates a ripple effect beyond the individual students, or even their schools. The local community is impacted, as well as the universities they attend and the communities they choose to call home after graduation. For those who do stay in Buffalo, StaffBuffalo will be ready to help them find great jobs, or hire great people at their companies.
“The more information that we can provide to others, especially the high school students, to prepare them for their job search, identifying a career path, and obtaining a job in their chosen field, the better off they will be,” says Lauren. “It really goes hand in hand with the mission of StaffBuffalo and what we do every day!”