In recognition of National Volunteer Week, ITWorks is spotlighting one of our amazing volunteers each day this week. Our volunteers are such an asset to our program and make a huge impact on our students. ITWorks would not be the same without them!
Please meet James Johnson II, the Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Carpenter Technology Corporation, and a remarkable volunteer. James has been involved with ITWorks for several years by serving as a mentor, leading Friday Sessions, hosting interns, and playing a key role as a member of our Board of Directors.
ITWorks: How did you first learn about the ITWorks program? What compelled you to get involved as a volunteer?
James: I first learned about the program after attending one of the annual luncheons. I was invited to attend by a mutual connection from another company, and was completely blown away by the number of people in attendance and the support for the program. I saw the young people as reflections of who I was twenty or thirty years prior. It made me remember all the mentors I had along the way that made a difference in my life, and I wanted to be that person. I could tell we had similar backgrounds, and I wanted these young folks to know they can do anything if they put their minds to it!
ITW: You volunteer in a variety of capacities – do you have a favorite way to get involved?
J: The Friday Sessions, for sure. I think I get more out of them than the students do. It reenergizes me by being around people who are excited for that next step in their lives. Hearing about their goals and aspirations and facilitating a dialogue, it’s so much fun! I get to be an informal mentor for each student in the class for that day. I really look forward to the discussions and intimate conversations. I got some team members to do a Friday Session for the current class, and I told them ahead of time, “You know, I hope you expect to get a lot out of this.” They came back and couldn’t agree more!
ITW: Describe one experience with a student(s) that stands out as being particularly impactful for the student(s), yourself, or both.
J: There was a young man who went through the program several years ago who ended up being an intern for me. My team and I were part of getting his career off the ground. I had an opportunity about six months ago to check-in with him, and it was amazing to see it all come full circle. He wanted to take me to lunch – not the other way around – and thank me for everything I had done! So seeing the development in his career long-term was really rewarding for me.
ITW: What do you think the benefit is for volunteers who get involved with ITWorks?
J: The volunteers get to be revitalized in their own careers by feeding on the energy of these young people. It makes me realize that I can’t take for granted what I do each and every day – there are people who want to do what we do and that reignites my passion. Volunteers also get the opportunity to reacquaint themselves in their own skills. It’s almost a refresher for us, to incorporate back into our own careers. It’s also very humbling to meet the students where they are in their lives and understand that I am no different than any of them. We all just have different pathways to reach our career goals. It doesn’t matter where we come from, everyone can have the same opportunities but we all need help along the way.
ITW: Do you have any insight for organizations or individuals who are considering a volunteer opportunity with ITWorks?
J: Be yourself! Bring your own experiences and leverage them to impart what you are trying to get across. The best sessions are those that come from the heart. And be open to keeping the connections open moving forward – you never know when your help might be needed in the future.
James Johnson II leading a Friday session.
Carpenter Technology started off in 1889 as a small tool steel company in Reading, Pennsylvania with only 35 employees. Today, Carpenter employs nearly 5,000 people in 40 locations worldwide. As a global leader in the development, manufacture and distribution of cast/wrought and powder metal stainless steels and specialty alloys, Carpenter continues to accommodate the ever-changing needs of the Automotive, Aerospace, Energy, Industrial, Medical, and Consumer Products industries that fuel our everyday lives.
Do you want to volunteer for ITWorks
by hosting an intern? Apply now!