There’s nothing wrong with following your dreams but don’t forget to create a plan to achieve them a panel of community members told local high school students at the Making Connections Between Students and Local Business Community forum.
Organized by the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce and the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School the event’s panel included local writer and Echo reporter Sue Tiffin; entrepreneur Brandi Hewson owner and operator of WAI products; Re/Max realtor and former retail business owner/operator Jeff Strano; Amanda Robinson a freelance digital marketing specialist; Trevor Chaulk owner of Chaulk Woodworking; and Sandy Stevens a youth job link facilitator with the Fleming CREW.
The aim of the event held at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion on May 31 was to help the students see the connection between what they are learning and life after high school. Todd Tiffin a retired educator and realtor was the MC. The event offered insight to the possible career options for two HHSS school classes: the Grade 10 careers class and the Grade 11 business leadership class.
The panel wasn’t always in agreement during the event which lasted a little more than an hour.
However they all endorsed the importance of formal education even if the area of study didn’t lead to work so much as demonstrate the ability to work hard and learn new skills.
Robinson said she gave up the “nine to five” job which never fulfilled her the way her independent work life has. She is passionate about helping companies market themselves using the ever-advancing technology such as Snapchat. Motivated by her passion she told the students "follow your dreams and tap into your personal strengths."
Strano agreed with Robinson to a point.
He encouraged the students to follow their dreams but reminded them to work towards a goal by using a plan. He advised them to work toward the type of lifestyle they wanted.
Hewson said success and being able to provide for her family is a major driver for her.
Robinson and Hewson pointed out employment in the county is difficult but for them their income isn’t solely dependent on this area. They want to be here and can make it work. Both said much of their income came from outside the area.
Strano reminded the students to not discount the value of contributing to the community by volunteering. It not only helps the Highlands but it can provide an opportunity to network with people. It can lead to fulfilling experiences and possible mentoring since many retirees are part of social clubs that organize community events.
Chaulk challenged the students about the dedication it takes to work for his company.
He asked them if they wanted to make $35 an hour. When many students raised their hands in agreement he then asked them if they would do it if they had to be at work for 7 a.m. Then asked again for how long. There isn’t any professional future without hard work and sacrifice he said.
Strano reinforced what Chaulk brought up saying in a world where social media often shows success and luxury it is easy to forget the work that went into everything.
“What they don’t show you is the struggle that probably every single one of us on this panel [has experienced]. They don’t show you the long hours. The stress. The financial burden. Dealing with situations that are pretty much 99 per cent beyond your control” he said. “It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in a lot of it is completely beyond your control.”
He said every person who appears to be at the top of his or her game has struggled and continues to struggle to stay up there.
“Life’s going to move really really quickly for you guys after you graduate from high school. You know what? Just be aware it’s not all roses. I’m not trying to be negative just trying to temper your enthusiasm with reality. That you will have to work your butts off. If you’re not putting in the time and energy you won’t get the results you want.”