Getting Students Excited About the Real World

If I could boil down the mission of The Chamber’s Franklin Initiative into one sentence, I would say it’s about providing real-world experiences that get young people excited about their future.

Our Franklin Initiative volunteers make this happen.  What better organization to provide real-world career learning than a Chamber of Commerce?  With connections to hundreds of businesses and thousands of people representing virtually every possible career field, The Chamber is uniquely positioned to play this important role.

This was a great year for FI.  Reality Stores, career fairs, company tours, employment fair, classroom speakers, service learning, mock interviews, WorkKeys testing – all these activities use the magic of real world experiences to spark interest in preparing for life as a working adult.

I think what I like about my job so much is that I get to provide to the next generation the kinds of experiences that made a lasting impression on me when I was young.  Throughout the year, I often reflect on my own career learning experiences from when I was in school.  Here are a few that stand out:

  • The dental hygienist who came into our kindergarten class and gave us those red pills you chew up to show where plaque is building up.
  • The taxidermist who came in to my 3rd grade classroom with a stuffed owl.
  • My school’s version of the Reality Store in the school gym in 6th grade.
  • The local businessman who came in to our 9th grade civics class for Junior Achievement and taught us about supply and demand curves.
  • The trip to the Woodward Governor factory, with enormous hangars for building jet engines.  It employed so many people they had their own barber and dentist right inside the factory.

Why are these events so burned into my brain?  In addition to being breaks from the ordinary, they proved to me that there’s a world outside of my own limited experience.  They showed me the world is made up of people with lots of different backgrounds, skills, and aptitudes who are doing important and interesting things that have nothing to do with me.  They do it all day, every day, while I’m at school, and millions and millions of other people throughout the world are doing things too.

Volunteering for FI activities is a great way to see your own life and career with fresh eyes, like a child really.   It strips away that shell caused by taking everyday things for granted.  What do you have to share about yourself and your career?   What can you share with kids today that will prepare them for careers?   How can your business lay the foundation for the workforce of tomorrow?