Connecting with the Future: A Day at the MISD Business Symposium

MISD Kristin Durbin

Inarguably, the future belongs to the next generation.

The teenagers and young adults of today are tomorrows professionals. While the resources these young people have at their fingertips are vast and instantaneous, it feels at least to me, that the human connection available to these future journalists, lawyers, and video game designers isn’t as readily available as it once was in recent years, due largely in part to the covid-19 experiences we’re all living.

Upon receiving a call-out for business professional volunteers from my local school district for a Business Symposium for the Interdisciplinary Study and Mentorship program, I seized the opportunity to connect with local students about my field of business (Operations, Finance and HR) and provide any professional or personal expertise or advice the situation called for or that the specific student requested.

When entering the symposium space, the atmosphere was charged with anticipation and energy that stemmed from a group of sharply dressed youth standing in the corner. As the professionals entered, they steeled themselves and dispersed, shaking hands and introducing themselves to various people across the room. I could see the mental reminders echoing in their brains as they shook my hand – stand up straight, firm handshake, say “yes ma’am”, talk about yourself but ask questions too.

I could feel the nervousness lift as they came into their own and shook off the intimidation of talking to the adult professionals/volunteers in the room. I could feel them embracing the coaching tips the program had provided them with and the desire to leave a great impression was evident.

The setup included multiple, single volunteer stations that the students would rotate through one-by-one. A 15-minute mock interview took place, followed by a session of feedback from the volunteers. What surprised me most during this process was how much passion, drive and excitement came screaming through the conversation in such a short time span. The fire in these young teens was unmistakable and enviable.

I met a delightful young woman who’s passion for the environment and drive for inclusion and diversity in the workplace was nothing short of inspiring. I spoke with a young man who, while a self-proclaimed introvert, couldn’t suppress his pride and lit up when describing the video games he’s already created from scratch. Another young lady I met spoke of her journalism dreams with such hunger that I’m confident we’ll all see her on a national broadcast one day.

Through all of these interviews, I offered tips and feedback on ways to communicate, how to best display their impressive talents, resources for furthering their interests and perspective career paths. When it mattered to the conversation, I spoke about my role in an operations capacity, commercial real estate, and my specific company’s platform of tenant representation only and a conflict-free platform (which resonated well with the students). Mostly, I encouraged their appetite. Their plans were well thought out with very little desire for self-recognition, fame or accolades. They want change.

They want for their generation to make a positive and meaningful impact on the environment and equality for women and minorities. They want to embark on the road to pediatric oncology in order to make a difference in the lives of sick children and their parents. They want to tell the stories without bias. They want to change the world. I applauded the ability each student showcased to vocalize their own abilities and desires. Each one, without fail, expressed gratitude in letting them unfold their visions.

I started that day hoping to offer something positive to these students as a middle-aged professional female in the workforce. Advice, insight, perspective, or maybe even just a chance to practice conversing with an adult they weren’t related to and didn’t know. I thought the best-case scenario was having some small influence on a young person’s day by being a kind and friendly face, if nothing else.

What actually happened was several children barely old enough to drive gave me a renewed faith in what the world could look like in a few short years. The future, I believe, is in good hands and I have been inspired to invest more of myself in it.

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The MISD Business Symposium is an annual event that provides an opportunity for juniors and seniors in the MISD Interdisciplinary Study and Mentorship (ISM) program from McKinney Boyd High School, McKinney High School and McKinney North High School to hone their communication skills through mock interviews with professionals from the community and MISD. This year's event took place on Friday, September 17, 2021. Click here for more information on the event.

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