At South Western High School in Hanover, PA, the Career Department and the Hanover Chamber of Commerce created and sponsored the Career and Workplace Readiness Camp. This summer, the camp directors were business teacher Kathy Miserendino and career counselor Lisa Dennis at South Western High School. The four day camp was a learning experience for the campers to meet entrepreneurs and employees who are employed at various companies in Hanover. It focused on resumes, applications, the hiring process, and young entrepreneurs.
On the first day of camp, the campers visited Divino Pizzeria and Grille. The campers learned that the successful family run business is currently operated by Jason Eckenrode, who is in his 20s. Eckenrode works about 140 hours a week. He began working in the pizza business at 14 years old. He said that most businesses turn a profit in their first three years, however, he turned a profit after one month. His passion for making pizza and for serving people gives him the drive every day to make his business succeed.
So’s Taekwondo has been passed down three generations and is currently being managed by Derek So, who is in his 20s. So attended South Western High School and took business courses with Miserendino. He shared with the campers that he started running the business when he was a sophomore. He said that when he is hiring someone, he’s looking for a person that has different strengths from himself and the rest of his staff. He said that one of his tests for applicants is for them to clean a toilet. He said that the test measures an applicant’s willingness, detail-orientation, and if that applicant has a different way of completing a task. He also shared the importance of organization, confidence, time management, and prioritization.
The third day focused on business and entrepreneurship including a panel of local entrepreneurs: Amanda Weaver, owner of The Cabbage Patch (an upscale children’s resale boutique) and Top it off Frozen Yogurt; Dakotah Moses, President of Moses Family Jerky and a South Western graduate of 2013; and Sean Adams, creator of Rising Sun Snacks. The local entrepreneurs discussed the rewards and challenges of owning a business, the importance of feedback, and caring about their customers. Weaver said that she loves being able to help and give back to the community. She said that The Cabbage Patch is frequented by many needy families who have foster children, parents in prison, and are struggling to make ends meet. She also said, “In whatever you do, make sure you are passionate about it.” Moses started his family run business in high school through his utilization of social media, networking, and word of mouth. He would even bring in samples of beef jerky for his classmates. Moses sells his products through local farmers’ markets. Adams said that he relies on customer feedback to drive his business. He has even created a program for customers to rank their favorite flavors. His business is mostly online and the products have a subscription option and are shipped.
The last stop for the campers was the Academy for Media Production. The campers learned about the one year program that the Academy offers that educates its students about photography and audio and video production under one of the most reasonable tuitions, which can be aligned with three more years of college. Bill Chenaille, director of admissions, and the rest of the staff come from very specialized professional backgrounds. He shared information about the internships and summer camps that the Academy offers as well as the Academy’s alumni successes. He shared that combining art and technology makes an artist’s career very profitable. He shared how each noise in a film has to be created because it is not possible to create them digitally, and it is illegal to use a file from another filmmaker. He also gave the campers a photography demonstration where he swapped facial features of some of the campers.
At many parts of the Career and Workplace Readiness Camp, successful business people gave a similar message: Your career path most likely will change. Seeking ongoing educational opportunities, selecting a career you are passionate about, making connections with people who could help you in your future, and taking advantage of the opportunities offered in high school are all ways to help you be ready for that change.
*Pictures provided by Kathy Miserendino and Lisa Dennis