The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce hosted their 37th annual High School Business Symposium Nov. 15, bringing together high school students and local business leaders to share ideas and thoughts on the business climate in Jefferson County.
Heather Morgan McIntyre, the chamber's executive director, said the gathering saw approximately 80 students paired with a variety of professionals in the community who were on hand to offer suggestions on youth job seeking and the types of opportunities which may be available in the county for teens and beyond. The students, she said, were hand-selected by school counselors as top students in business and marketing classes.
Starting off the event, Susan Wall, superintendent of schools, told students, "Take advantage of the information to be shared here today." She explained to them that she has spent most of her life in the education system, as a student and then as a teacher, principal and administrator. A part time job outside of the education realm gave her a totally new perspective, she said.
"This symposium, like that job, alleviates tunnel vision from the classroom," she said.
Students spent time interviewing the businesspersons at their respective tables and then had to introduce those business people to the crowd.
Following that exercise, moderator Charles Howard spoke to the students about the importance of such things as developing a resume and meeting potential employers face to face. Internships and job shadowing were a strong topic of the day as students were encouraged to seek out opportunities to be on the job whether paid or not.
"You need to take the initiative to get that done," Howard said, of students making themselves known to prospective employers. He explained that the go-getter who sets and appointment to discuss possible job shadowing opportunities or even potential job openings makes a good impression on employers, moreso that someone who simply sends in a written resume.
In addition to discussion on how to get into the job market, students expressed their concerns over the lack of potential jobs in the county which would encourage them to remain here after finishing their education. Along with jobs, the students also expressed the need for other amenities such as shopping and entertainment as requirements for Jefferson being home.
To that end, Howard explained that as residents, students have on voice on what can be done to bring desired businesses to the county. He encouraged students who had already turned 18 to vote and those younger to register as soon as they are able.
"Then be an informed voter," Howard said. "You have to take the initiative here, too."
Jane Tabb, County Commissioner-elect and owner of Fresh Feast on the Farm catering told students that she would love to hear their needs and concerns for business development in the county. She encouraged the students to develop a presentation and invite the county commissioners to come listen to their thoughts.
A great deal of time was also spent on a discussion of service and volunteer opportunities in the community which could lead to future employment as well.
"You may be surprised to find out what is here," Howard told the students, with regard to job opportunities in the county. He encouraged each student to seek out any member of the Chamber of Commerce to assist them in finding potential internships or job shadowing opportunities.