What began as a tentative conversation on how ITKAN might embrace a group of young adults from Marriott Foundation’s Bridges program is developing into an exciting new partnership between us. Adam Hecktman met Kelly Pavich of Marriott Bridges at an industry event and immediately introduced ITKAN as a potential resource for the young adults in the Bridges Chicago program.
Established in 1989 by the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities, Bridges from School to Work engages employers, schools, community resources, youth and their families to help businesses meet their workforce needs while offering young people with disabilities the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed through employment.
During the course of introductory conversations, Kelly, Adam and Pat Maher agreed to host several members of Bridges at a future ITKAN monthly members meeting. They agreed not to overthink the dynamic, subject matter or managing the process, but to simply welcome them to the group and allow them to experience ITKAN.
We were confident that our expert for the evening, Paul Edlund, Chief Technologist – Microsoft Midwest, would have no problem holding their attention as he canvassed the topic of productivity tools and the future of work and collaboration. Pat Maher was Skyped into the meeting and was challenged to follow Paul’s energetic presentation as he moved from tripod to smart board to monitor illustrating sensor technology, data visualization, and other tools that would continue to move the definition of how all of us work in an increasingly demanding world, with or without disability.
They were all so thrilled about the opportunity to meet Paul, otherwise known as “the most important person at Microsoft!” by Jyrus of our group. During the meeting, Joshua, Jyrus, Orlando, and Briangel were grinning from ear to ear as Paul explained the myriad projects that Microsoft is working on using technology to help others around the world. They were able to see that Microsoft’s scope went well beyond computers, and truly was a company that believes in research & development, empowering others to discover, and growing their brand through innovative ideas and people. Paul inspired them to be the best employees as well, and he said Microsoft is looking for “Type A, aggressive, and driven people.” Our candidates walked out knowing that they could have a place within Microsoft or somewhere within the IT field, as long as they worked hard, were passionate about their work, and wanted to always present their best selves. Their grins from the beginning of the meeting turned into beaming smiles with each of them believing that they could take charge of their future!
–Kelly Pavich, Marriott Foundation, Sr. Employer Representative/National Trainer
As it turned out, the Bridges group gained more from the experience of the afternoon and evening than any of us could have hoped for, and we have gained a new partner in the Bridges from School to Work program.