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Pittsburgh-area employers benefit from Nazareth Prep mentoring program

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Filing was a rote task that Khrysta Brown took for granted. Then, two high school freshmen showed her how to do it better.

“There was this alphabetizing device in this office, and it was collecting dust, and I saw them using it one day,” said Brown, a human resources specialist at Peoples Natural Gas.

Assigned to mentor students from Nazareth Prep as part of the Catholic school's job-training program, Brown said she, too, benefits from the partnership that aims to teach students skills necessary to thrive in a modern workplace.

Her experience highlights how the program can be beneficial for employers. More than three dozen Pittsburgh-area companies and nonprofits agreed last year to guide students one day a week during the school year. They included some of the largest employers in Pittsburgh — from law firms to construction companies, health care providers and educational institutions.

The school expects to double the number of employers participating when the second year of the program starts after Labor Day, said Deb Sadowski, the academy's director of corporate work-study program.

Many employers say the program fits with their ethos of corporate citizenship, but their motivation goes beyond charity. Even students with no work experience bring value, they say, performing tasks and serving as brand ambassadors. Some might become prospective employees.

“We expose our jobs and our careers to a younger generation,” said Tim Holt, director of human resources for insurance services at UPMC, which had four students last year.