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Think about all of the mistakes you made to get to where you are today. I am talking about career mistakes, not sleeping with your mom’s best friend mistakes. Believe it or not, they are helpful tools for young people looking for or just getting started in their careers. 

How you can give back to the next generation of entrepreneurs

Currently, students ages 14-22 lack access to networking opportunities and real world experience in the business field. They aren’t being exposed to the multitude of career options available to them upon graduation, nor are they taking the proper steps while in school to build their portfolios and learn the skills required to add value to businesses.

Think about how access to mentorship at an early age could have opened so many doors for you, or prevented you from making those mistakes that may have set you back. Access to industry professionals is the best way to decide which careers are a fit for you, and which careers you may want to avoid. This idea could apply to all fields (law, healthcare, education, etc.). Imagine being 16, thinking about becoming a veterinarian because you love animals. Then, you put in all the hard work to get into college, choose your major accordingly, go to graduate school, and then step foot in a vet office as a dog is being put down. Suddenly, you realize that you couldn’t see yourself doing that every day. The time and money wasted would be overwhelming. The data shows that one third of students are changing their majors while in college, and an even higher number of career changes are happening years after graduating college. How can we change this statistic? We need YOU!

What the younger generation needs 

High school and college students need access to internships (both paid and unpaid). They need to work in the environment in which they plan to start their careers. Maybe this means actively doing work for your company, or maybe it means being a fly on the wall, observing how the business works. There are many ways to bring interns on board that do not create more work for you. 

They need an option to participate in a job shadowing experience. This could be one time, weekly, or monthly. They need to shadow a professional in the industry they wish to pursue, in order to see what day to day life is like in that job.

They need free resume editing from someone IN the industry to which they hope to apply. Look over their current resume, and offer suggestions on how to edit, reword, or add valuable content in order to stand out. 

They need mock interviews done by professionals and mentors so that they build the necessary skills and confidence when it comes time for their first real interviews. Allow them to come to your home or office, and walk them through what an interview would look like. Then give them honest and critical feedback. 

Lastly, they need a mentor, someone who can help teach them the importance of “soft skills,”  like punctuality, communication (written and verbal), adaptability, and problem-solving. These skills are lacking in the current workplace among millennials and Gen Z, and employers are firing new employees more than ever because they lack these skills. 

High school and college students benefit from networking, mentorships, and hands on experiences in their field of interest. Use your experience and position to help mentor the next generation of leaders. 

How can you give back?  Work with local high school programs, such as Junior Achievement, that partner students and their teachers with local industry professionals to help mentor students as they start their first business. Talk to local high schools about being a guest speaker, or find out if they have internship programs at their school in which they could find qualified students to send your way. Partner with local community colleges and universities to pitch ideas to their business classes and have them come up with marketing campaigns or financial statements for your company. San Diego State University (SDSU), University of San Diego (USD), and hundreds of other colleges around the country utilize industry partners in their business classes to do real world projects like this. These projects can lead to potential internships or mentorships for the students. Give them access to your network. 

Nationwide Programs & Resources needing mentors or volunteers in the Business Sector:

Junior Achievement Company Program

DECA Business Clubs

FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America)

BPA (Business Professionals of America)

Local high schools, Community Colleges, and Universities

About The Author

Shannon Taylor

Shannon Taylor

Currently a high school business teacher with a background in marketing, Shannon Taylor has a Masters Degree in Education and likes to stay relevant in the business world so she can bring the experiences and skills back to the classroom for her students. She has experience writing content for corporate social media accounts and developing integrated marketing campaigns.

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