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Finding Out What It Takes to Work in the Industry

This post was written by Sara Mooney (pictured above at left), a secondary English teacher and digital media adviser at Susquehannock High School who participates in the York County Alliance for Learning’s Educator in the Workplace program. As part of The YGS Group’s continued community outreach efforts, we hosted Mooney for three days this summer to help her learn about all things content, digital, creative and media sales. Here are thoughts from her time at YGS.

As a secondary English teacher, I hear a lot of things from family members and students, especially complaints like: “High school is a joke. It doesn’t prepare you for the real world.” and “Why does this matter? I bet I’ll never use this again.”

Letting go of the insinuation from those comments that what I do “doesn’t matter” (I’m just molding and preparing the future of our nation and its workforce—la-de-da, I know), my response usually comes with a grain of salt and the understanding that not everyone has had a fulfilling high school experience.

My three-day experience at The YGS Group highlighted and pinpointed many traits and skills that students should to take with them into the workplace—no matter their future careers. It also provided me with sufficient  and valuable ammunition for my lessons. I boiled down this information into the following ideas:

  1. Communication skills are essential. If you are unable to send a respectable email back to a client, explain your actions on a certain project or sell your ideas to your boss, you will most likely not be successful in some area of your job. I suppose this is why English classes focus so much on written language and discussion communications. Perhaps.
  2. Time management and deadlines are part of everyday life. Whether writing freelance, finishing a printing job with saddle stitching, or giving an estimate or bid on a marketing plan, you need to be able to plan ahead, chunk tasks, organize tasks by priority and complete the given project by a deadline—or suffer the repercussions (money, reputation, etc.). Sounds familiar regarding essays, group projects and even reading deadlines, right? Hmm.
  3. An entrepreneurial spirit is key to standing out from the masses. Being able to assert yourself to acquire extra opportunities, modern knowledge or the latest training on your own shows grit and a stellar work ethic. You are not going to be held by the hand as you push yourself—you have to want it. I tell my students all the time that the best story or the best grades are not going to just walk up to you and beg to be written about or naturally occur just because you want them to; it takes initiative and effort. Then again, this is coming from “Looney-Mooney” (a nickname that some students have bestowed upon me), who is known for wanting “too much.”
  4. The best results come when you fall in love with the process. You have to find your own personal way to love the hunt, so to speak. If you are invigorated by the steps it takes to create a wireframe for a microsite or if InDesign gets you “in the zone” as you revamp a client’s branding, it’s obvious that you truly love your job. I have to say that I saw this natural passion at YGS in every department I interacted with. This comes down to knowing your strengths and honing them or simply investigating what is out there—inside and outside of your range of strengths and interests. If you are assigned a task that you aren’t crazy about, you have to be able to persevere and focus on the positives of accomplishing it. That is life.

Overall, I truly appreciate the time YGS took to host me, and I am ecstatic to speak with students about my experience and to further embed these traits and skills into my lessons. I want them to feel as if what they are doing “actually matters.”

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