The annual Rising Professionals event for students allows high school students to attend breakout sessions covering a variety of employability and life skills. On March 13, more than 600 work-based learning students in the North Georgia area attended this year's event at the Dalton Trade Center.
Sessions included money management and credit, job acquisition and advancement, communication and social media in the workplace, and team building experiences.
For Dalton High School junior Ansley Keylon, the seminar encouraged her to begin planning for life after high school. "I wasn't thinking about the difficult parts of life after school yet. A job interview, maybe, but I wasn't thinking about money and getting a credit card," she said. "Today has opened my eyes to the things I should begin thinking about."
Another session that Keylon and DHS senior Tony Saldana said stuck with them the most was a skit demonstrating the best practices for a successful job interview.
"The way they demonstrated a bad interview and a good interview helped a lot because I've personally had interviews and I probably haven't done the right things in them, like maintaining good eye contact," said Saldana. "I think it's important to attend these seminars because it gives us a glimpse of what we are getting into after high school and what things we will have to face."
The seminar sessions were led by industry professionals from Shaw Industries, Mohawk Industries, Engineered Floors, Reynolds Farm, the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce and Browne, Draper & Land.
In Dalton Football Coach Matt Land's session on money management, he talked to students about developing good saving and budgeting habits while they are young.
Saldana added that the money management seminar gave him a feel for real life and all of the things young adults have to overcome. "He told us about how you have to create a budget, start a savings account and avoid credit card debt. It definitely gave me some good advice, like saying no to things that are not right and how to make the best choices financially," he said. "Their tips can go a long way."
DHS Work-Based Learning Coordinator Larry Tripp explained that juniors and seniors have the opportunity through work-based learning work sites or internship placements to connect classroom knowledge with real-world experiences.
"This seminar is so beneficial to our students who are already working while earning school credit because they hear from industry leaders about the critical skills and abilities needed in today's work environments," he said. "Learning those skills now will give them a leg up in the workplace." he said.
To qualify for a work-based learning placement, a student must be in grades 11 or 12 and at least 16 years old. Students must also have a defined Career Pathway in order to participate in a Work-Based Learning placement. Learn more about Work-Based Learning from the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE).