Business professionals speak to students at Haliburton Highlands Elementary School on Oct. 23 about the challenges and opportunities in the local workforce. Organized by the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce and the Young Professionals Network the panel discussion has been taking place at the school for the past three years. From left to right Pat Bradley Trevor Chaulk Heather Kennedy Brandi Hewson and Kristy Bourgeois. ANGELICA INGRAM Staff

It’s all about attitude: business advice for high school students

By Angelica Ingram

If there was one resounding piece of advice the students of Haliburton Highlands Secondary School heard on Oct. 23 it was this: a good attitude and hard work will help find you employment in the Haliburton Highlands.

For the third year in a row the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce hosted the young professionals panel featuring area business leaders and professionals who offered advice to the next generation of employees.

This year’s panel offered a wide range of professionals including a marine and storage business owner two entrepreneurs a graphic designer and an office administrator.

Although all five panel participants ended up in the Highlands for different reasons some were born here while others moved here they shared the same sentiments on why they have chosen to pursue careers in the county.

“I didn’t know anything about Haliburton County when I first moved up [here]” said Trevor Chaulk owner of Chaulk Woodworking. “I did fall in love with it and the serenity of raising a family here to me that’s the appeal … to me I truly do love this area … what keeps me here is the amount of opportunity that is here that most people don’t realize.”

WAI Products Inc. owner Brandi Hewson echoed Chaulk’s sentiments saying Haliburton affords you the opportunity to work hard and play hard in a natural environment.

While all five panelists took different avenues to get where they are today they equally emphasized the importance of education and that failure is a part of the experience.

“There is no education that’s bad education because everything is transferable” said Chaulk. “If you think you’re going to stop school and stop learning you’re mistaken. You’ll always be learning.”

However aside from education and training the business professionals stressed the value of a strong work ethic and positive attitude saying those are the skills they are looking for and is what will ultimately propel any career.

“No. 1 put your cellphone away” said Haliburton Marine and Storage owner Pat Bradley in response to what he looks for when hiring. “You have to have initiative don’t stand around … a broom takes no training. Just be willing to do anything that someone asks you to do.”

Chaulk agreed saying it’s all about the attitude of the employee.

“I actually prefer to hire people with no skill at all” said Chaulk. “What we look for is the attitude: are you honest are you open minded and are you willing?”

Local graphic designer Heather Kennedy who works for The Highlander Newspaper and as a freelance designer encouraged students to try out the co-op program to get a better understanding of their career choices and the working world.

“Just recently we had a co-op student at the paper and he worked directly under me” she said. “It was an amazing experience … we actually ended up hiring him for the summer … If anyone is interested in doing co-op be open minded just try it out. That’s the other part about living here you have those opportunities.”