Monday, October 4, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: Jeremy Brown

Second year volunteer Jeremy Brown (right, at 2010 Art Festival) grew up in Peoria, Illinois; the sixth largest city in Illinois with a population of over 110,000. He spent the first 23 years of his life there, which means he went to college in the area. Jeremy graduated from Bradley University in 2002 with a degree in Manufacturing Engineering. Bradley is an “awesome, smaller school” with about 5300 undergraduate students. He appreciated its low teacher-to-student ratio because it allowed for more discussion in classes and for him to ask questions.

Before transferring to Bradley, Jeremy attended a junior college for two years. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he stayed for one year of graduate school. So Jeremy has experienced a wide array of postsecondary education options. His tip for college: “Get to know the people in your classes.” He says, “You may develop a friendship or a colleague-type relationship, working on projects or forming a study group together.” Another good way to meet people is to join clubs. Jeremy was a member of engineering societies and played intramural sports.

Jeremy has worked for Schnieder Electric since graduating from Bradley. He got the job out of the blue through a random call he received through Bradley’s career center. (Tip #2: Use your school’s career center!) Usually it’s prospective employees making cold calls, but not in this case! He took an interview thinking it would be good practice at the least, however, in the end, he ended up really liking the company and their offer.

Schnieder finds energy savings in buildings; mostly school and government buildings. They update different systems to make buildings more energy efficient, and usually the savings pay for the project! Working on green projects has made Jeremy very self-aware of his own carbon footprint. “I try to be as green as possible,” he says. “It is really important to me.” If you want to learn more about the green industry, talk to Jeremy. He says, “Companies are desperate to hire people in this industry. It’s a competitive market with job security, and you get a good feeling.”

As for Cabrini Connections, Jeremy discovered us through Twitter! He follows @TimeOutChicago which tweeted a link to volunteer opportunities in Chicago. We were listed, he checked out our web site, and soon enough he was paired with 8th grader Cantrell Strauther on Thursday nights. Two things that have worked well for Jeremy: “asking questions that are fairly open-ended” and “finding something in common,” which, for him and Cantrell, is sports.

Jeremy says his experience has been great so far and he looks forward to getting more involved, which could be hard to do. In the past six months, he has been to most of our events, he checked our utility bills for energy savings, and he recruited his wife to be a mentor. Wow! Thanks for everything, Jeremy.

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