Large or small, this type of participation is very good for spirit of the business. It’s a chance to be part of the bigger canvas of the community. You can be small, but mighty.
Bookworm Central works with over 200 schools to organize book fair fundraisers, seeking out books and games that “captivate children’s minds and imaginations.” A few years ago, company Founder & CEO Radhika Bajaj started exploring becoming a Manassas CTE Business Partner.
Getting a sense for a need that would serve students and businesses, Bajaj created an intern program that would give students a basic sense of what it takes to find and keep a job: “You show up on time. You don’t record hours incorrectly. How to collaborate and be team workers; to work with difficult situations, and with difficult people.”
“In my hiring, I was noticing young people in 2-year college or even with a 4-year degree…they are not ready to put their phone away during the interview. Or in proper clothes. I was observing these challenges over time,” said Bajaj.
Out of the nine candidates interviewed, Bajaj hired seven. Three were selected based on having strong credentials. The other four didn’t stand out as ideal candidates, but, “They really needed us,” said Baja. All seven worked in the warehouse during the holiday rush; three were selected to stay on in more specialized roles, such as graphic design.
Baja noted that her business benefited in a number of ways:
- Staffing for holiday season: “Intern programs are great for seasonal peaks.”
- Fresh perspective: “Nobody has finger on pulse like kids do. From a business perspective, it is really powerful.”
- Nurturing future workforce: “Having children workforce-ready as quickly as possible benefits every business.”
At the end of that first season, Baja said the feedback from the interns made her smile: One student shared that he now appreciated how hard his mother worked, and another said she understand the importance of reading to young children, and would do it often when she became a mother later in life.
Bajaj encourages other organizations to become Business Partners. “It’s really contributing to the future of the world,” she said. “Large or small, this type of participation is very good for spirit of the business. It’s a chance to be part of the bigger canvas of the community. You can be small, but mighty.”