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Virtual Volunteering Through NB/STEAM
New Braunfels is experiencing tremendous growth and local business partners are finding it more difficult to find employees with the desired skills and work ethic to fill open positions. The Chamber is excited to share a new initiative it’s implementing to solve that problem.
Thanks to a partnership between the Braunfels Foundation Trust, Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, Comal ISD, and New Braunfels ISD, several area businesses, and our new partner Nepris, New Braunfels businesses can now easily connect to the local high school population. Using a branded version of the Nepris website called “NB/STEAM,” businesses can now sign up to virtually meet with local classrooms to discuss career opportunities and the skills needed for professional success. Nepris manages all logistics and communications, so it’s easy for both teachers and industry professionals to get involved. All that’s needed to use the platform is a device with a camera and access to high speed internet.
Teachers from the CTE (Career and Technology Education) program in both Comal ISD and New Braunfels ISD now have NB/STEAM subscriptions so they can request professionals to talk with their students throughout the year. For students, these connections answer the age old questions of “Who really uses this stuff?” or “I don’t know what I want to do when I’m out of school!” Now they can get some new answers or insights, straight from professionals who are eager to share their stories and explain how class content can be applied to the real world.
How it Works
It’s pretty simple! Teachers create a “request” identifying a specific topic or if the students need help with a project and would like an expert to answer questions. The platform matches the request to professionals who have the right skill set. It will look for local experts first so the goal is to build a network of local professionals in the coming months.
Here’s a great example of the power of these kinds of connections. Becky Cole, career counselor at the New Braunfels campus of the Central Texas Technology Center – Alamo Colleges, created a request for someone to talk with students about CNA careers (Certified Nursing Assistant). Students in the class were exploring health careers and wanted to know about opportunities in that field. Resolute Health Hospital was on already board so this was a natural fit.
Through the NB/STEAM platform, the students connected with Elizabeth Cardenas, Chief Nursing Officer at Resolute. In their 20-minute virtual session, Elizabeth shared her history, the training it takes to be a CNA and what Resolute looks for in their employees, as well as current open positions. And she met with them from her office, saving travel time. According to Becky, “It was very helpful to my students, especially those going into that field. One is applying for employment with Resolute. The other was torn between going into a LVN program or the RN program. The session helped her make that decision.”
According to Tripp Lyles, Director of Business Development at Resolute, “Being a part of NB/STEAM allows Resolute Health Hospital to connect and share the world of healthcare with students and teachers in our community. Students can ask questions of healthcare professionals and are given the opportunity to see what options are available to them.”
Comal County Court at Law Judge Charles Stevens completed two sessions last spring. “The sessions went very smoothly and the video and audio connections were very clear.” In one session, Judge Stevens discussed Mock Trials with a middle school class in California and the other was about public service careers with Louisiana students. “Being a virtual volunteer was well worth the effort. It is a wonderful opportunity to give back to your local community and beyond. It gives students an opportunity to hear from professionals in their business and away from a purely academic approach, which can be useful. I believe it strengthens our community and professional field by letting them know part of being a good professional is being involved in your community and profession,” ends Stephens.
Curious about what a session looks like? Watch the video below to see Judge Stevens discuss Public Service Careers.
Don’t want to wait for a recommendation?
For professionals who want to be more proactive, they can create a short presentation on a topic of choice and Nepris will promote it to all teachers on the platform who only have to click a button to sign up. These “Industry Chats” maximize your reach and impact in just 30 minutes!
In addition to Resolute Health Hospital, local business who have agreed to participate are ADM, CEMEX and CEMEX Quarry, CTTC (Central Texas Technical College), Great American Products, Herald Zeitung, ITM, Los Gallos Restaurant, and Martin Marietta. We are looking forward to lots of great connections with employees from those organizations.
Who Can Volunteer?
Anyone who wants to share experience, skills with students! From a small organization, a large organization, public, private, freelance, retired, between jobs, in graduate school – all are welcome to inspire students virtually. You only need a device with a web cam (tablets and phones work, too!) and access to high speed internet.
How to Sign Up
Ready to be a virtual volunteer? Go to https://nbsteam.nepris.com/ and follow a few quick steps to create a profile as an Industry Professional. Since NB/STEAM creates matches based on industry and skills, be sure to fill out those sections in your profile.
Please email our Nepris contact, Stasi Gaveras at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or would like additional information.