On an early morning in December 2021, students listened in and imagined what it was like to be part of one of the first graduating JAG classes while special guest speaker, Bob Burns described what led him to his now, 36 years with General Dynamics Mission Systems (GDMS). Student’s interest grew as Burns connected his career success with their same JAG program at Coronado High school. “In high school, I would have never thought I would work for a technology company, JAG got me there,” Burns reflects.
Burns’ JAG Journey
As a Coronado High School student, Burns explored his interest in sports and clubs like home economics and thrived most when he worked with technology. It was his backstage work on theater equipment that got him noticed by the JAG Coordinator, Mrs. Gallagher in high school. Mrs. Gallagher recruited Burns specifically for a technical career pathway with employer partner, Motorola.
Corporate V.P., Motorola Inc. (ret) and JAG Executive Board member, Cathy Olesen, explains about the key partnership at that time. “When Motorola opened in Scottsdale, many of our employee's student's went to Coronado HS. Many of those students had aspirations to work for Motorola so we figured that a partnership with JAG was natural.”
The partnership program gathered students at the Motorola’s Scottsdale Facility at Hayden and McDowell twice weekly outside of school hours where they learned electro/mechanical assembly and earned course credits. Those who passed the course were eligible to be hired upon graduation; Burns was one of them. At age 18, Burns began his early career with Motorola. Oleson explains, “We could help our employees. We can help their children. It was just a win-win for all of us.”
During his presentation, Burns walked youth through his career timeline from entry level assembling computers to his current role as a Director. “Motorola helped my career growth and allowed me to try different skills,” he explains. Burns explains the history of Motorola, how it was acquired by General Dynamics and the challenges of current events like the supply chain crisis and the work-from-home trend.
Burns later brought to life his journey by playing a brief yet thrilling video overview of the aerospace and defense leader’s remarkable scope of work. The students became inquisitive and asked Burns questions like, which of his roles did he find most exciting. “In some cases, your most exciting jobs aren’t always the best paying,” his candor continues about one of his favorite positions he held as a field technician for military programs where he learned a lot about the military’s mission.
An array of GDMS careers in the Scottsdale community were mentioned and future classroom engagements are in the works including more guest speakers with unique industry knowledge, a facility tour and career program.
Burns’ story and connection with JAG students is a glowing start to a partnership which could benefit students greatly and fuel the local growing economy.
These types of guest-speaking engagements are one of the key components of the JAG Model because they enrich the career exploration experience for students. Visit the Volunteer page to register for our New Volunteer Orientation where you'll learn all about becoming a guest speaker for JAG youth!