This was my welcome to our Annual Supervisor Appreciation Breakfast in November 2018 –

Have you ever walked into your favorite department store and picked up an item with a “one-size fits all” tag on it? Well I have. Many times. And, probably, an equal number of times, I’ve walked into the fitting room with a false sense of hope.

Well, our Corporate Work Study Program does not have a one-size fits all tag. And, it’s intentional. As much as we’d like too, this one-size fits all approach does not always work. Although the goals and expectations remain the same for your students, how the students accomplish them and how long it takes them to get there, will inevitably determine your course of action, your approach to the students’ projects, to their day.

Take a minute to think about your team of students. Think about the students sitting next to you this morning, those that have graduated, and those that worked with you for only a short period of time. Adopting a prescriptive model for how we operate our work-study program would mean the students you just thought of, 1) have the same needs, 2) communicate in a similar manner, 3) possess the same skill level, and 4) respond to feedback the same way. And, since I’m in a room full of supervisors, mentors and managers, I know that you know that this is just not the reality. Much like I knew that that item in the department store would not fit me.

Each of you here this morning is special, because you play a role in carrying out the mission of Verbum Dei. And, while not every supervisor here today plays the same role, you do fulfill the same mission. You believe that your student can and will accomplish the goals and expectations you place before him. You know that the energy and patience you gift your students will reap results. You know that those extra 10-15 minutes to check-in with your student at the end of the day will reciprocate the trust that you place in him. And through this process, not only does the Verbum Dei student grow, so do you. You develop as a supervisor, as a mentor, as role model and friend.

In the many years I’ve been privileged to work with CWSP students and their supervisors, I’ve compiled an endless number of anecdotes. I’d need the entire day to share with you my favorite ones, but there are a few examples of how supervisors enrich the students’ experience and make it their own that id like to share.

  • Allowing the student to spend an hour in the IT department because you know he’s interested in computers
  • Setting up interviews with your friend the architect because you know he wants to be an architect and you’re at a law firm
  • Intentionally breaking up the 4 hour filing project by having him assist with other smaller tasks in between so that he doesn’t get bored
  • Asking him to teach a colleague how find the currency exchange rate from 3 weeks ago so that the check requests from that work trip abroad are properly processed
  • Trusting him with the 60-day invoices to companies in the rears
  • Teaching him Revit and allowing him to present the observatory he designed to architects and engineers at the firm
  • Conducting a semester long research project in a topic of his choice while working alongside experts, and then presenting to the department the findings of his research

The list can go on, but one thing is for sure – remember that feeling of finding an item you liked with a one-size fits all label? I am proud to know that our students are in jobs where their experiences complement their interests and encourage their growth. They will not look back on their CWSP experience and label that tag, “one-size fits all”.

I am grateful for each and every one of you and would like to formally thank you for all that you do with and for our young men.

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