Curated, hands-on learning experiences. That’s what Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) volunteers recently provided to approximately 250 local high school students through Careerockit.

Careerockit is a Greater Omaha Chamber initiative connecting students and young adults with community partners who host learning opportunities.

BCBSNE has participated in Careerockit for four years. For 2020, the company’s volunteers created unique experiences for three area high schools: Central, Omaha South Magnet and Gretna.

Central High School

At Central, volunteers took students through an Agile-based exercise. Agile, a project management system commonly used in the tech industry, helps teams accomplish tasks by meeting small deadlines every few weeks.

Students built a mobile app for their session, Glenn Bruneau, BCBSNE volunteer, said.

“During the exercise, they had the opportunity to brainstorm, build a backlog on what’s the priority and do a drawing,” Bruneau said. “They shared it with one of our volunteers and got feedback.”

Students then had to enhance, move or change something based on the feedback, similar to what they would do for a real customer.

Omaha South High Magnet School

At Omaha South, BCBSNE volunteers tied their learning activity into the students’ current studies: job application preparation.

“We’ve talked about the different terminology they’re going to see when they apply, as well as things they need to be doing,” said Sara Waugh, Omaha South dual language information services teacher. “Right now, we just started talking about resumes.”

BCBSNE volunteers shared where they began their careers and ran students through a personality exercise to help them identify their strengths for their resumes.

“The activity tied in perfectly to what we’re talking about,” Waugh said. “I think this was an incredible experience to offer students.”

Gretna High School

For the fourth year in a row, Gretna High School Technology Coordinator Jerome Skrdla brought students to Blue Cross Centre (BCC) to complete a capture the flag exercise run by members of BCBSNE’s cyber security team.

“It’s always fun to see the excitement as the kids are working,” Skrdla said. “As an educator, any time you can leave the classroom and have the excitement carry over, you always have a good feeling and know it’s been worthwhile.”

Chandler, a junior at Gretna, attended Careerockit at BCC for the second year in a row.

“It was a lot of fun last year, and I thought I wanted to come back,” Chandler said. “I liked it.”

Chandler, who enjoyed growing his problem solving skills at this year’s event, plans to study cyber security in college.

“I’ve always wanted to do it but coming to this really gave me the drive and the motivation,” he said.

That’s exactly the goal of Careerockit.

“This is a great opportunity for our organization to get involved in the community,” Bruneau said. “We enjoyed sharing our real-life work experiences with students and hope to inspire them.”

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