Partnership Feature: Birmingham Rotary Club

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Group tables gave students the opportunity to get feedback from Rotary mentors and their peers on pitching a presentation topic.

If you ever start to doubt the magnitude of the investment that the Birmingham community has placed in the success of our students, let me borrow an hour of your time and introduce you to Sanjay Singh, President of the Birmingham Rotary Club.

“Our members look forward to the Career Development Conference each semester,” says Singh. “Sitting across from these students, what stands out the most is their potential, their ambition, and their genuine desire to be change-makers in their community. It is an honor and a privilege to work one-on-one with Birmingham’s youth, supporting them as they prepare for their futures.”

Kate Nielsen gives students tips for public speaking during last fall's Conference

Kate Nielsen gives students tips for public speaking during last fall’s Conference

Rotary is an International organization of business and professional leaders, united worldwide to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. In more than 160 countries worldwide, approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 30,000 Rotary clubs. The Rotary Club of Birmingham, which is the largest Rotary Club in the world, represents some of the top professionals in Birmingham – CEOs and Presidents from major corporations such as Regions Bank, UAB Hospital, and Alabama Power.

Last year, former Club President and Ed Board member Eddie Friend began the conversation about developing a signature service project with Ed.

Rotary’s mission is service and, in Birmingham, we have a real heart for engaging the youngest in our community, the future leaders to whom we will pass responsibility for our city,” says Friend.

AT&T Alabama President Fred McCallum sits with Carver student Jharin Dunson for pre-mock interviews at Carver last week.

AT&T Alabama President Fred McCallum sits with Carver student Jharin Dunson for pre-mock interviews at Carver last week.

Out of those initial conversations, the Career Development Conference was born.  At first, a single-day event, in just 12 short months, the Conference has blossomed into a two-year curriculum that spans the entire school year. Each semester includes four in-school sessions and a full Conference day on topics relating to professional skills development, during which students get experience on interviewing and public speaking. In fact, just last month, Woodlawn senior and Conference participant Mohamed Jalloh preceded Birmingham-Southern College President General Charles Krulak as a guest speaker at the Club’s weekly luncheon.

This Friday, we start the slow wind-down of the 2014-2015 school year with the spring Conference, featuring a full slate of talented local professionals and 60+ Rotary volunteers. All of 200+ 11th-grade students that attend that day will get at least one one-on-one mock interview with a Rotary member.

“There is so much to learn from these kids,” says Friend. “We all are experts of our own experience and these students are no different. It is a rare and wonderful opportunity to get to sit across the table from them and see their future contributions to this city start to take hold in a single conversation.”

Want more? Check out a video highlighting the Career Development Conference here.

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