JOLIET — Barb Mullin doesn’t teach for a living — she works at a bank — but she walks away from talking with students about what it takes to succeed in the real world with a deep appreciation for the craft.
Mullin, a Standard Bank & Trust branch manager, came Tuesday morning to Hufford Junior High School to help teach students how to solve problems when working a job and how to think creatively. The students were being taught by volunteersfrom local businesses and Junior Achievement of Chicago on Monday and Tuesday to equip them with skills needed for career success.
Mullin has volunteered to teach students in first through fifth grades, but Tuesday was the first time she taught eighth-graders. Mullin was one of several volunteers lending their professional experience to the sessions offered by JA.
“Don’t beat me up too much, OK?” she joked.
She had the classroom take a preliminary exam to test their knowledge on appropriate workplace behavior, soft skills and industries that are in demand before focusing on creativity and critical thinking.
The students were set to go through several sessions as part of the JA Career Success program teaching them, among many things, how to get hired, how to work and knowing their personal brand.
Students exercised their ability to solve problems on the job creatively and critically by working through two scenarios. In one, students were asked what they would do when working at a fast food restaurant and a customer had a special request that would require extra time.
Many students said they would fulfill the request instead of declining by saying sorry.
“If you’re saying sorry, it’s just a polite way of saying no … you might lose that customer’s business,” Mullin said.
Students discussed the consequences of their decisions. Mullin encouraged them to go with choices that would have more positive outcomes.
“You better think through what you’re doing with your job, because it could cost you your job or create problems with your business,” Mullin said.
Jenny Seddon, Hufford Junior High assistant principal, said eighth-grade students were not only learning about job skills through JA but also being exposed to higher education options after high school by visiting Joliet Junior College on Monday and Tuesday.
“I think it’s a great thing for them to have before going to high school and looking toward the future for college,” she said.