On the eve of a big volunteer day in Portland Public Schools, PWA board member Janet Rodriguez had every reason to feel anxious.
On Oct. 11, students at four PPS high schools would be showing up at Career Exploration Days for mock interviews or career workshops with a couple dozen adult volunteers recruited by PWA with Rodriguez’s leadership.
If she was nervous, Rodriguez didn’t let on during an Oct. 10 meeting of the Portland Workforce Alliance board of directors. The day before the multi-campus event, Rodriguez was explaining to her peers how she got involved as a mock interviewer five years earlier and how she hopes to build on that experience as a new PWA board member.
“I am passionate about helping shape our youth’s future,” Rodriguez said. “Building a resume or participating in a mock interview are necessary skills that every person needs. I wasn’t as fortunate to have these resources available to me, so this is an area where I can share my expertise and help students succeed.”
The Oct. 10 board meeting was just the second one for Rodriguez as a new board member. She joined six other recent additions to the PWA board, a group of about 30 business, education and government leaders who provide policy guidance and community connections to fulfill PWA’s mission.
The following day would come off well, as about two dozen HR professionals showed up to conduct mock interviews and workshops at Cleveland, Franklin, Grant and Madison high schools. Already, though, Rodriguez and her peers have begun recruiting more than 100 volunteers to help at the NW Youth Careers Expo on March 13, 2018, when 6,000-plus Oregon and SW Washington high school students fill the Oregon Convention Center for a day of career exploration activities, including mock interviews and career readiness workshops.
Here’s a snapshot of our new board member:
Personal: Rodriguez was 10 years old when her family moved from Los Angeles to Oregon. She graduated from Beaverton High School, attended Portland Community College, then transferred to Portland State University, where she became the first in her family to graduate from college. She majored in General Management and Human Resources Management and for 10 years was part of the HR team for a recycling company. She and her husband Gerardo have two daughters, Zoe, 10, and Fey, 6. Away from the office, Rodriguez enjoys running and cooking.
Involvement with PWA: “I was initially connected to PWA about five years ago through someone who also attended Portland State and was looking for volunteer mock interviewers for the Expo. The following year [PWA board member] Natalie Miller was putting together a committee to recruit volunteers for the Expo and I happily raised my hand to be a part of it. For two years I served as a committee member. This year I was fortunate to be invited as a board member, which I was delighted and excited to be a part of.”
Helping students: “I believe in giving our youth the opportunity to gain essential job skills. “
My experience: “When I was in high school we did not have programs, like the ones PWA offers today. In fact, I was not required to have a resume prior to graduation. Nor was I prepared to go on a job interview. My first job interview happened only a couple of years ago.”
How I want to strengthen the organization and help PWA grow: Rodriguez is an account manager for The Partners Group, an insurance broker, and works with HR professionals outside of the organization. “One of my goals is to connect these individuals and people in my network to increase awareness of the work PWA does. This is also an opportunity to bring in additional volunteers and businesses that share the same values around education and career readiness.”