- BY SUE MARBLE CUTHBERT
AT&T’s Lollie Ramirez-Bennett beams with pride as she describes the Citizen Schools apprenticeship she and her team of 15 colleagues have led for two semesters.
”In the AT&T Brand YOU apprenticeship, we utilize the importance of the AT&T brand & logo to teach the students how to build their own personal brand and how to protect it,” she explains.
Ramirez-Bennett is the Associate Director of Finance Results for AT&T in Houston, Texas, and is also on the Citizen Schools Texas Advisory Board.
AT&T mentors from various business units and employee engagement groups work with students throughout the semester to create a concept for a mock business, such as an app or a cell phone company. They then create their own logos, slogans and marketing materials, including t-shirts and business cards.
“Each week our mentors share their insight on how to best showcase yourself when communicating with others, how to decide what market you want to reach, how to best reach that market, how to set pricing plans, how to prepare a sales presentation and how to present and sell your idea,” says Lollie.
Students pitch their businesses at the end of the semester, demonstrating their skill in communication and collaboration. But what the AT&T team celebrates most is student growth in confidence and self-esteem. To Lollie, the journey of a student named Francisco stood out to her.
“When we met Francisco on the first day last year, he was very withdrawn. We asked each student to list descriptions of their personal brands. Francisco’s list was ‘Lazy, Weak, Shy.’ We thanked him for his honesty and said we would help him find some better words by the end of the semester. Turns out he was very creative, extremely bright and understood the concepts we were sharing faster than anyone else in the group. Francisco stood out in every assignment we gave.
At the end of the semester, when asked to list some of his personal brand descriptions, he proudly said ‘Smart and Creative.’ It really seemed as if Francisco had grown a few inches taller. While physical growth was also possible, the true reason was that he stood taller with confidence. He was awarded the ‘Most Courageous’ Award at the WOW! event by the Citizen Schools Texas staff.”
The AT&T team is completing its second apprenticeship with students like Francisco and already making plans for next semester.
“As AT&T employees, we ourselves have gained incredible knowledge, improved on our own 2020 skills sets and we achieved a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction by participating in this program. We have worked very closely with Citizen Schools to maximize the impact that we can make in our community. Our goal is to continue to offer the AT&T Brand YOU here in Houston and encourage our colleagues around the country to offer it in other cities where Citizen Schools and AT&T work.”
By showing deep commitment and a willingness to enter into the experience fully, corporate partners like AT&T model community engagement in a way that serves our students for a lifetime.