The Warren Student Center at Sampson Community College was abuzz with activity on Thursday thanks to the Sampson Early College High School inviting local businesses in to fill the space with information, sessions, and demonstrations that would help its students hone the variety of skills they will need as they live and work in the 21st century.
The first event of its kind for the Early College, the idea for the “21st Century Day” came out of a summer conference in which school officials participated.
“We decided on ’21st Century Day’ because we wanted to do something to align with Common Core,” said Elizabeth Griffin, assistant principal at the Early College, explaining that the Common Core curriculum pushes students to “solve problems and deal with real world situations.”
“And we wanted to involve local businesses that could offer students advice on those skill sets they will need,” she added.
Businessmen and women with CenturyLink, Smithfield, J. West Men’s Clothing, the State Employees Credit Union, Traditions Too, Mary Kay, and Professional Career Services stepped up to do just that.
Both Brenda Herring with Mary Kay and John H. West of J. West Men’s Clothing talked with students about how to make a good first impression on a potential employer during the interview process.
In addition to showing students the art of a proper introduction and a firm handshake, Herring discussed how important it is for young women to wear a dark, three piece suit; don neutral hosiery; and keep jewelry and make-up simple when going to an interview. She also advised young men to wear a solid, dark suit along with dark shoes and socks; leave hats and sunglasses at home; and keep hair neat and trimmed. West also talked with students about proper business attire, and even took time to teach young men — and young women — how to tie a tie.
Representatives with CenturyLink, Smithfield, and Professional Career Services talked with students about how to create a resume and go through an interview; they also helped them better understand what employers are looking for when hiring. CenturyLink also offered advice to students on how to use social media responsibly, making students aware that potential employers, through a simple online search, can see — and often do check on — an applicant’s Facebook and Twitter posts.
Taking small groups into 30 minute sessions, Ellen Tew of Traditions Too walked students through a business dinner, going over proper place settings and table manners, as well as educating them on how to make introductions and engage in dinner conversation.
Financial responsibility was also a feature of the “21st Century Day.” Sylvia Hales and Julie Blackman with the State Employees Credit Union in Clinton held sessions to teach students the importance of budgeting and building good credit, protecting their debit cards, and saving and spending smartly.
Early College students Brandi Lane and Jala Brown agreed that the event was nice with Lane adding that it had peaked her interest in different careers.
“My favorite was the etiquette class because you don’t see people using proper manners as much as they should anymore,” shared junior Kylie McCorguodale, adding that she was excited to learn that much of the financial advice given from the State Employees Credit Union professionals aligned with what she had learned in her economics class.
School officials were excited to offer a “21st Century Day” for students, and even more thrilled that it was well received, because they know they’re helping to prepare students for life beyond the Early College’s walls.
“It’s a good experience for the kids to even just talk to and interact with these businesses,” said Griffin.
“Just them being able to get information on the proper way to go through an interview is good,” agreed Noreen Tilley, a math teacher at the Early College.
“About 70 percent of our (school) population is first generation college so they may or may not have had these experiences. It’s a chance to teach them about professionalism and presenting themselves,” Griffin added, “and preparing them for the things they will encounter in the business world.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.