Since 2016, Pizza Hut, LLC has been partnering with Uplift Education to afford students the opportunity to experience career engagement events to help them prepare for college, career planning and their next steps in life. Established in 1996, Uplift Education is the largest charter school network in the DFW area. The network serves more than 18,000 scholars in Pre-K through 12th grade on 20 campuses across the metroplex.
Pizza Hut recently hosted 70 students from the Uplift Mighty campus for the 3rd annual career exploration day called the Unlocking Potential Initiative. The purpose was to give students a taste of what it’s like to work for a global brand such as Pizza Hut. To kick off the event, Artie Starrs, President of Pizza Hut, welcomed the students and introduced the career panel. Chequan Lewis, Senior Director, Express, emceed the event. Attendees engaged with multiple speakers and panelists, toured the building and participated in a workshop named, Day in the Life. The Day in Life session was just that – a day in the life of a Pizza Hut employee. Students then learned more about Pizza Hut’s Life Unboxed culture, experienced a food demo and put on their thinking caps for a Limited Time Offer (LTO) Ideation Creation session.
In the afternoon, students learned about how to lead with smart, heart and courage. Serving on the panel was: Hiram Hurd (Human Resources), Brian Loescher (Development) and Adrianna Rodriguez (Marketing).
We sat down with Adriana Rodriguez, Marketing Associate Analyst, to discuss her experience as part of the panel.
Q: What was your biggest takeaway from being on the panel?
We all have our own stories that got us to where we are, but on that day, I saw a piece of me in those kids. My biggest takeaway was reflecting on my own experience and feeling like I could actually pass on advice that I would like to have heard at that stage in life. It also made me proud to stand by my colleagues, who all come from different backgrounds, and be a part of a culture that cares about young adults in a way that offers exposure and supports growth opportunities.
Q: How do you feel the panel regarding Smart, Heart and Courage made an impact on the students that day?
I believe there can be skepticism for teenagers and the things adults tell them. At first I sensed it, but by the end of the panel their expressions softened, they had questions and one student even stood up to thank us for inspiring him. You need smart, heart and courage to have honest conversations like those, and I felt we really represented it that day.
Q: How did having this on the agenda enhance the experience of the students?
I think it was an excellent idea to have the activity on the agenda because it put the students to the test right away and gave them an opportunity to display smart, heart and courage. Being vulnerable in front of your peers isn’t easy to do, and we had the opportunity to practice it and experience it together when we gave students a call to action like the ones shared that day.
These events do not come together without the help of many dedicated volunteers. From welcoming and ushering the students to helping coordinate their day, the volunteers made sure the event went smoothly and was engaging for the students.
Charlotte Platts, a volunteer at the event, shared, “When I get involved and volunteer, I get outside of myself and my comfort zone, broaden my perspective, meet people I might not otherwise, and I am in the moment. Giving to others of my time and resources helps them and it helps me. What could be better?”
We hope these students left Pizza Hut more knowledgeable about what it’s like to have a career in a global organization and the numerous career paths available to pursue. It was encouraging to see how bright the future appears with this next generation of leaders.
To get a better idea of the entire experience, take a look at this recap created by Uplift Education here.