The Recruitment Whirlwind
It’s a familiar sight at lunchtime at any school: The recruiting table. Flyers, forms, enticing posters, a couple of chipper people wearing nametags and company t-shirts, shouting:
“Sign up here!”
Lately, we−the TAF programs team—have been the tagged-and-t-shirted, the cheerful shouters, the flyer-wavers. STEM Up, our after-school STEM enrichment program for 6th, 7th and 8th graders, starts January 7, 2013, and we still have spaces to fill. Last week, my team tabled at a Seola Gardens Community Center welcoming event for families. We were also at Cascade Middle School, our neighbors on the southwest side of Lakewood Park. And last Saturday, we had another table at the White Center Community Summit, alongside other service organizations who, like us, work in the White Center Promise Zone.
The reactions we get at these events are familiar: “Hey, I’ve heard of you guys!” “Oh, is this like TechStart?” “What is this, computers?” At the Cascade cafeteria, 7th and 8th graders perked especially at our call for “video game design classes.” One young lady let us know that she’s a serious gamer, so our invitation to classes where youth can develop and program their own games got her full attention. Another student brought his buddy to our table: “Here, sign up for this with me!” While a few young folks shied away from our greetings, we found it usually took minimum cajoling (“Hi there! Do you want to design video games? Graphic design? Build and program robots? Here, sign up!”) to get their names down and give them an application form.
At community events where the main audience is adults who work for other youth programs, we hear things like, “This sounds great, and this community really needs something like this!” or “Wow, I wish we had something like STEM Up when I was a kid!” And my personal favorite: “Can I take a few applications to give to some young people I know?”