The Schools’ Business Partnership in Dublin

Uncategorized - Mar 21, 2014

International internet company AOL have been based in Dublin for the past 16 years and are leaders of digital content, advertising solutions and services. Colin Kennedy, Senior Software Engineer with AOL Networks tells us why he volunteers with SBP.

Q. What school are you linked with and for how long have you been working Colin Kennedywith them?
A. Mercy Secondary School Inchicore, Skills @ Work, 2 years.

Q. What has really stood out for you during those two years?
A. We undertook the Strengths Quest programme with the Transition Year students. The programme is based on the Clifton Strengths Finder which aims to identify a person’s top strengths. The subject takes an online questionnaire, which take about 20 minutes to complete. At the end of the questionnaire, the subject is presented with the top 5 Themes that apply to them based on their answers. We used the Gallup Strengths Quest to determine this.
Jennifer O’Dowd put together the programme. She is the People Development coordinator for AOL in europe, and is a certified Mind Gym trainer, so she has good experience in the area.¬†We began with a session on the 14th of February in Mercy Secondary School where Jen gave a presentation to the girls to explain what the programme was about, and the goals. She also walked through how to take the questionnaire and answered any questions the girls had. We asked the students to take the questionnaire in their own time over the next two weeks.
We invited the students and their teacher to the AOL offices on the 28th of February where we gave each of the girls their individual report. Jennifer then walked them through their reports, and asked them to do a few group exercises. This included building a map of strengths for the class, and informal group discussions. They were also encouraged to make note of a few action items for each of their strengths, so they could continue to use and develop them. Finally we presented each student with a certificate, which listed their strengths, and gave each of them a copy of the Gallup Strengths Quest book.

Q. What did this mean to the students?
A. The students gained an excellent insight into the traits and themes that are present in their characters which is an invaluable tool for them to use when setting personal goals and also reflecting on experiences.

Photo: Colin Kennedy Senior Software Engineer in AOL offices, Dublin.