Updated: Jul 8, 2019
How this came about
Around the first week of June, I received a phone call from Dekalb County Sheriff's department. Of course I was nervous because naturally we are all nervous receiving a random call from the Sheriff's department, innocent or not lol. However, the voice that greeted me on the phone sounded very excited. The officer informed me that he was referred to me by one of his officers, a former classmate of mine from Riverdale High School, and that he had just read the article about my coding program in the Dekalb County newspaper, The Champion. He was elated as he continued to talk about the coding program and then presented me with an opportunity.
The opportunity I was presented with was unlike any opportunity someone had ever proposed to me. The officer asked me how I felt bringing a coding program to the Inmate Services program at Dekalb County Jail. Without hesitation, I ecstatically replied Yes, I would love to!
The next order of business was setting up a face to face meeting with the program manager of Inmate Services and the officer who gave me the initial call. During the meeting, I brought my Kids Next Code book, study guides, and learning materials that I utilize during my coding workshops. I feel like that gave the program manager a good idea of how the workshops would be structured and a comfort level with my teaching style. Another great thing that came from the meeting was for the program managers to see how my passion to provide educational services to a group that faces many challenges and very limited opportunities when they leave jail correlated with their passion as well. The meeting concluded with me providing a 6-8 week schedule for the coding classes that would begin Monday, July 9th.
I try to always take away key themes from every opportunity, encounter, success, or failure. One of the main things I learned from this experience was that having a strong network is key if you want to grow your business. The network I'm referring to is your personal network. This network consists of people who know you on a personal level and can vouch for your character. People who engage with your business and share your content amongst their network. Often times, we exert so much time and effort in building networks that consist of individuals that don't know us at all. Individuals who don't engage in our business. We gravitate toward what's the most popular, trendy, etc., instead of exploring the strengths of our own personal network. What strong connections do we have within our own personal network? How can they benefit us?
With that being said, my classmate from Riverdale High School played a huge role in me getting this opportunity with Dekalb County Sheriff's department. Him being able to refer me to Dekalb County's Sheriff department allowed me to get in front of the right people to present my coding program. This is a prime example of the cliche phrase we hear, "It's not what you know, it's who you know".
I challenge us all to get to know our personal network better!