Shaping the Future: Our Role in Career Readiness and Community Engagement

At NACC, “For Our Community” isn’t just a phrase in our mission statement—it’s a commitment that defines everything we do. It’s about more than just supporting our members; it’s about embracing our role in the larger community.

Recently, I had the opportunity to engage with high school students at the “Your Brand Matters: A Job and Career Readiness Bootcamp,” organized by KidsMatter. This experience was not just about connecting with other chamber organizations; it was a chance to interact with the future of our workforce—high school students—and to support them on their journey.

In the dialogue with eight other panelists, we all shared our unique career trajectories, highlighting the diversity of our experiences—some attended college, others did not; some pursued trade school, while others ventured into fields unrelated to their degrees. This discussion underscored that the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ remains challenging at any age. We delved into a meaningful conversation about how career choices are not just about the roles we aspire to but also about leveraging our strengths and making strategic decisions at the moment. The panel emphasized the importance of finding work that energizes us, connecting with individuals who bring out our best, and seeking environments that nurture our growth. 

Along with these insights, we discussed effective strategies for making the most of an interview opportunity. Here are three of my favorite interview tips shared by the panel. 

Researching Companies and Their Personnel: Research the company before your interview. Look over their website, catch up on the latest news, and grasp their mission and values. This not only shows your dedication but also ensures their goals match yours. Knowing about the company helps you discuss how you can contribute and find ways to connect personally. For example, discovering you share a hometown with the CEO can be an excellent way to break the ice. Always look for something in common with the team you’ll be meeting.

Ask Questions: Never pass up the opportunity to ask questions during an interview. A lack of questions can be misinterpreted as disinterest or overconfidence. You demonstrate your investment in the opportunity by asking about the work environment, team structure, and role expectations. Here are some thoughtful questions to consider:

  • Looking back, what’s something you wish you had known about the company when you started?
  • Why is this position available? Is it a new role, or am I replacing someone, and if so, where did they go?
  • Do you have any concerns about my fit for this position that I could address right now?

Following Up After the Interview: Don’t forget to send a thank-you message within a day after the interview. A simple email is fine, but the key is to express your gratitude and restate your interest in the role. This can make you stand out from other applicants and keep you on the interviewer’s mind. A handwritten note is a thoughtful extra step, but timely email communication is essential.

While there are countless resources for interview preparation, one standout tip is authenticity. Simply put, be yourself.

A heartfelt thank you to KidsMatter for organizing the “Your Brand Matters” boot camp. Efforts like this engaging panel discussion are essential—they prepare our future workers for their next steps. I hope these tips help you shine in any interview or when any new chance comes your way.

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