On Thursday, March 6th, three Burlington High School Help Desk students, juniors Nathan Rippin, Mira Mehdi, and Danny Piotti, had the opportunity to attend their first multi-Chamber of Commerce networking event at the Burlington Marriott Hotel. The evening began with a social media workshop led by a panel of experts and was designed to help local entrepreneurs understand how to leverage a broad range of social media channels including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Pinterest and blogs. Attendees learned how social media can be used to develop customer relationships, reach their marketing goals, and position their business for success.
At the conclusion of the one hour workshop, my students and I were introduced and chamber members were invited to visit with us during the two-hour networking portion of the event. During this time, my students offered hands-on training and assistance in setting up social media accounts on iPads and mobile devices. What was most exciting for the students during this event however, were the opportunities that were presented to them by several local business owners. By the end of the session, my students had collected several business cards and have follow-up meetings scheduled to discuss internship and part-time work opportunities in a variety of areas including social media management, website development, and video production.
In terms of an authentic learning experience for my students, I could not have imagined a more perfect setting. I watched from the sidelines as my students mingled with a group of adults in a formal setting like they had been doing it for years. They were professional (not only in their conduct, but in the way they were dressed), personable, and able to maintain business-oriented conversations with ease. They listened intently, asked thoughtful questions, and even introduced me to the new people they had met on more than once occasion.
Watching my students, you would find it hard to believe they are only sixteen and seventeen years old! It was clear to everyone who interacted with my students that they possess technical knowledge of social media tools, and they also have the interpersonal and human-relations skills that are equally important, but not as often talked about, necessary to succeed in today’s job market. I am eager to see the types of real-world job opportunities that will be presented to my students as a result of last night, and I look forward to the next event. We are excited to develop partnerships between the students in the Help Desk program and the Burlington business community.
I asked Nathan, Danny, and Mira to provide me with a brief reflection of their impressions from last night. Here’s what they had to say:
“I got the chance to talk to many businesses and I educated them on how to make the most out of social media. It was a great learning experienc for me.”-Danny Piotti, Class of 2015
“My experience at the Marriott was really amazing for me. This is the first time I’ve ever actually helped people with their businesses one on one and I truly think I made an impact. Working with these small local business owners really pushed and inspired me to want to start my own business or company. At first I was looking for Mrs. Scheffer and almost by her side while she was talking to people. However, at one point I realized I was talking to person after person and Mrs. Scheffer was not even near me. I helped people all on my own and it was just an all-around amazing experience and opportunity that I had.” -Mira Mehdi, Class of 2015
“Being exposed to the local businesses community was an amazing experience. There are many opportunities open to us through these types of events. I am excited to be a help in the community and looking forward to the next session.” -Nathan Rippin, Class of 2015