NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — A West Essex High School (WEHS) class that focuses on the many different tools needed to become successful in business, initiated two years ago by Livingston resident and WEHS teacher Janice Emering, invited a local businessman to share his experiences and advice during class on Friday, March 4.
The class, which includes teams submitting a viable business plan by the end of the semester, was led on Friday by Michael V. Daniels, a senior financial advisor at Financial Focus Group and the Executive Vice President of the North Essex Chamber of Commerce (NECC). According to Emering, a number of NECC members in different careers have dedicated time to this class to discuss how they conduct business.
“I truly believe in preparing kids for the future,” said Emering. “I try to give them the knowledge and the skills to function in life beyond college.”
Emering said she believes that listening to people who have become successful is the best way to learn what to do, as well as what not to do, when getting into business, whether working for another company or starting one independently.
“The information, the advice these businesspeople are giving them, you don’t find that in school, you don’t get it out of a book,” said Emering. “They’re giving you the real-life things you need to know to get that start.”
Daniels came with a variety of tips and ideas for the class. He told the students that the ever-changing world of information and communication resources is a significant part of being successful in business today, but also explained some simple things they can do and be aware of.
As an illustration, Daniels asked the students what types of social media they were using. Most of the students raised their hands for Facebook, while none were raised for LinkedIn.
“No one?” he asked, explaining that networking is the key to success. “Your homework assignment is to build yourself a LinkedIn account tonight. Today, you don’t send resumes to companies. Today, companies search for key words important to them on online sites and find you instead.”
Another tip Daniels gave was to intern with a company in the field they want to know more about.
“An unpaid internship may not sound great right now, but it gives you experience you can show future employers,” said Daniels, adding that having a mentor is “having someone who will have your back for whatever you’re trying to do.”
Daniels said that Millennials currently have a negative reputation as being lazy or feeling entitled. Addressing that, he advised that when interviewing or networking, the class should remember, “it’s not about you. The first thing you should think about is ‘what can I do for that person’.”
He also stressed the importance of being a well-rounded individual, doing new things outside of what they do now in high school. According to Daniels, trying new things “introduces you to new people and new situations, and creates different friendships.”
Afterward, Daniels said he genuinely enjoyed the opportunity to speak with the teenagers.
“I want to be a part of them leveraging the many more resources available to them than I had, and using them in their personal relationships, their schooling or their careers, to be successful,” said Daniels, who had a handful of students waiting to speak with him one-on-one. “These are kids that are going to go far.”