Editor’s Desk

Column: Spend some time in your local schools

May 11, 2013 

Art Whittington displays the power of a strong, confident handshake.

EAST WAKE HIGH SCHOOL

It’s hard to cram a lot of information into a short 15-minute presentation, but that’s what several local business leaders tried to do last week at East Wake High School.

The group, which included me, was asked to address students on a variety of so-called “soft skills” from communication and leadership to attitude and social media usage.

The visit last week is instructive for the presenters, too.

As adults, we all-too-often have a stereotypical view of high school students as a disinterested, lackadaisical group interested mostly in their own material wants and desires.

And, to be sure, there’s a certain amount of that out there. Heck, I see it in my own children at times.

But over a 90-minute period last week, presenters met about 70 students who were attentive, thoughtful and inquisitive.

The seminars, set up by Career Development Counselor Sharon Edwards and presented by members of the East Wake High School Business Alliance, were designed to give students a lesson on what employers look for in potential employees. and to explain to them that there’s more to winning a job than just having the technical skills and abilities to do the job.

There’s also value in a firm handshake, in looking someone in the eye when you speak to them and giving off an air of confidence in yourself.

Monday’s event also highlights another axiom we often fail to keep in mind: Bringing the business community into the schools is a good idea. Students can tune out someone who is constantly feeding them wisdom. Whether it’s a parent or a teacher, hearing the same voice over and over gets tedious. But bring a new voice into the picture – especially one that can speak with real-world authority – and even the most inward-facing child will look up and listen.

The relationship can be symbiotic, too. At work, we go about our daily or weekly routine, but spending just an hour and a half outside the office or factory and interacting with a different group of people is refreshing. It’s challenging. Put those two characteristics together and you have the highlight of your week.

jwhitfield@newsobserver.com

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