GRANITE CITY — Granite City High School business teacher Karen Greenwald is program facilitator for the Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) class, a popular choice among students.
During the school year, students will tour businesses to get a view of different industries. Each type of business has its own obstacles and advantages and students try to learn what business is the best fit for them.
The students meet off campus every day. Nicol Financial Services is the first business to host the class this year. Six Mile Library, Amsted Rail and other companies also will host and fund the class.
The school issues each student an iPad. The class meets for 90 minutes as their first session of the day. Class size is kept low – 13 for the 2015-2016 school year – to meet curriculum goals.
Students say the knowledge they’re gaining may help them achieve dreams for a bright future.
“I want to get experience in the business world, and that is why I wanted to join this class my senior year,” student Rashaun Hall said.
“I think it would be challenging to have my own business designing my own clothing line,” senior Phoebe Bolt said.
The class met Aug. 20 at the Nicol Financial Services conference room and had its first guest speaker, Dwight Erskine, a certified financial planner at Raymond James Financial Services in Effingham, Ill. Erskine is well-known as an expert in business etiquette. During his presentation he covered topics aimed at helping students make a good first impression – a vital skill in the business world.
Erskine advised students to read “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead.” He explained that curmudgeons are grumpy old men who people don’t like to deal with in business. Successful business people are accessible, friendly and use good manners. Etiquette and dressing for success are still relevant in the modern business environment. The professional who employs those skills will beat out those who think etiquette is obsolete, he said.
Erskine pointed out students wearing ties and dressing professionally.
“Look and act, as well as dress, for the job you want,” he said, explaining this is a habit that must begin early.
“Whatever career you aspire to, dress for the job,” he said.
He said jeans are inappropriate for professionals. Dress shirts must be long-sleeved all seasons of the year and jackets should never be removed. Ties should match the width of the jacket’s lapel; the tie’s length should hit the top or middle of the belt. His advice to young women was “wear nothing too low, too high or too short.”
Cellphone use also can be a stumbling block. Erskine said during meetings or conferences, participants should turn off their phones and never sneak looks at electronic devices; it will be noticed and tells meeting participants you are bored or that something else is more important to you. In response to student Jared Wylde’s question about whether phones can be left on vibrate mode, Erskine said you may leave it on silent vibrate, but it cannot make any noise. If you are expecting an urgent call, excuse yourself and leave the room.
The class and Greenwald said they enjoyed the presentation. It was a great way to start the year learning the basics of etiquette and realizing it still is an important factor in today’s corporate world.