When it comes to preparing teens for success, Susan Spears, president and CEO of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, believes the key is to let them learn from their failures.
“We can let our youth fail, so they can succeed. What that means is sometimes the other team wins, or you don’t make the cut when trying out for an activity. If you do your very best and still don’t make it, that’s a wonderful example of what the real world is like. Trying their hardest and losing is disappointing, but builds character, strength, resilience, and a desire for excellence,” Spears said.
Letting our teens learn from their failures is not the only way to help them strive for success. They must also be taught the skills needed to thrive.
So last year, the Chamber’s affiliate program, Workforce NOW, launched a new event called “Get Your Game On” where more than a thousand local high school students learned important career-ready skills, as well as had the opportunity to interact with professionals from over 40 local businesses.
Sheri Wikert, member services manager at the Chamber and executive director of Workforce NOW, played a crucial role in bringing the event to Fredericksburg. She teamed with Rene Daniels, director of public information with the Spotsylvania County Public Schools, to bring all five public school systems together for the event.
“Our hope was to provide students with the life skills that they need but aren’t necessarily getting in the school system,” Wikert said.
The one-day event featured four different workshops teaching teens resume writing, social media etiquette, customer service skills and how to dress for success. Students also were able to gain real-life practice through one-on-one mock interviews with local professionals.
The event was so successful Wikert‘s team is planning to host it again sometime in the fall of 2017.
To further help students experience the world of commerce, the Chamber also hosts an annual STEM Summit, a free one-day event designed to give students of all ages more insight on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) industry as well as a glimpse of the latest technology.
The 2017 STEM Summit was hosted at Massaponax High School on February 25.
Despite the Chamber’s efforts to prepare teens for success, Spears believes the groundwork begins at home.
"Parents should encourage teens to work hard, be goal-oriented and have respect for others.” Spears said.