A recent collaboration among NIU Career Services, DeKalb High School (DHS), the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and #ProudlyDeKalb offered DHS juniors and seniors an opportunity to develop their soft skills in preparation for employment now, and for life beyond high school.
First Impressions Count: Essential Skills Workshop was offered to DHS students through their economics education classes. The two-day program provided a chance for students to meet local business professionals to be evaluated on criteria such as their greeting and handshake, eye contact, 30-second elevator introduction, and other verbal and non-verbal communication. On the first day, each student was given two minutes with each evaluator to make an impression and another two minutes to observe a classmate doing the same.
The second day followed with a chance to review their evaluation forms from the first day and to work on improving the areas evaluated.
“Whether it’s a job interview, meeting with college representatives or building their network of contacts, this provides them with valuable practice of their skills,” said Brandon Lagana, director of Career Services Planning & Assessment.
The collaborative effort began when Matt Duffy, executive director of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, approached NIU staff about his desire to help high school students acquire workplace skills that would benefit them for employment now, and for their college application processes.
Those efforts resulted in about 150 students participating, and 25 different local businesses and companies took part as well.
Duffy said based on early feedback and evaluations, all indications are that they will offer the program again in the future.