SugarHouse VP Counsels students: Work Hard, Be Nice

_MG_2148On Wednesday, Leigh Whitaker, the VP of Communications for SugarHouse Casino came to YouthBuild Philly to speak with alumni and select students in the Business Administration vocation track. The main emphasis of the workshop was to focus on code switching in professional contexts, but Leigh shared her personal experience and life advice as well, including 10 key pieces of wisdom, which students and staff took notes on:

  1. Life is not fair!If the person next to you works less than you and makes more than you, that’s not relevant to you.
  2. Life is about choices. Choose wisely.Sometimes you will have to choose between the good and the bad. Sometimes the good and the good. Sometimes the crappy and the crappier.
  3. Don’t let anyone use up your time doing what they want to do or what they want you to do.In general, try to keep your relationships healthy. Even if you are a “yes” person, don’t maintain one-sided relationships. This should apply across the board: to friendships, work relationships, and personal relationships.
  4. Don’t take a chance with the impression your tattoos or clothes can make.Tattoos can easily be covered, you can easily pull up your pants, and you can easily not wear a wrinkly shirt to an interview – when you don’t do these things, she says, she cannot trust your judgment and will not hire you.
  5. Work hard. Be nice.(Borrowed from her friends at KIPP). You don’t have to love everyone, but you do have to respect the chair that they’re in and peacefully coexist with them.

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  1. If you dig a ditch for someone else, you might as well dig two.What benefit do you have in bringing someone else down?
  2. Be smart about the company you keep. Everyone isn’t your friend!
  3. Own your mistakes!If you make a mistake, own up to it. Don’t try to blame someone else; it’s your mistake. Also, nobody wants to hear a laundry list of excuses.
  4. Be prepared!Go into an interview, a meeting, etc. prepared! Know what you’re going to be talking about and dress appropriately.
  5. Find yourself a good coach! Leigh said it is helpful to have a team of coaches behind you and be intentional about what areas you select them for.

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Leigh was very honest and genuine with students and shared her advice coming from the standpoint that she does not know everything, and learned from experience – including mistakes. She did not get to this extremely successful point in her career by having a master plan from day one and following it. A lot of the major points in her career were affected by connections she made from working hard and being nice.

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We are so grateful to Leigh for for taking the time to meet with our students and supporting them on their professional development journey!

A YouthBuild week in photos

Happy almost-Halloween! We love these photos of our students volunteering at last night’s Haunted House at the Athletic Recreation Center in Brewerytown.  Service comes in many forms, from helping to haunting!

Today marks the end of Session One, which is YB-speak for the first six weeks of vocational training and academic preparation. After a transition week, students currently on the worksite will switch over to academics and vice versa.  We can already see big changes in our students at the end of this first session, and a vibrant school community has formed.  Here are a few highlights from this week.  No more scary masks from this point forward, we promise!

Automotive Day at Community College of Philadelphia

Although school only started last month, students are already exploring career and college options through field trips and college tours. For example, this week our Postsecondary Career Development department took a small group of students to the Community College of Philadelphia’s West Philadelphia campus to learn more about the Automotive Technology programs offered there.

Engaging Academics

From writing autobiographies to isolating strawberry DNA, students who started the year in academic training have shown consistent creativity and curiosity in the classroom. The student who took these pictures in her science class remarked, “science class at YouthBuild is way better than your average high school!”

Hands-on Vocational Training and Service

Students in vocational training this session focused not only on developing their technical skills and professionalism, but also on using those skills in service to the community. For example, our Business Administration Scholars put their customer service and administration skills to good use at SHARE Foods, a community food bank in North Philadelphia, by packing and managing the food inventory.  During the last week of Session One, many Academic teachers visited worksites to see what their students had been up to and to start building relationships with students in anticipation of next session.  Here’s Language Arts teacher Ms. Sandra making a difference at SHARE:

After-school service opportunities

12189004_157508587933954_4867743644017313551_nOur Community Projects Coordinators are working hard to connect YouthBuild students to service opportunities throughout the city.  In September, CPCs organized over 50 hours’ worth of service opportunities for YouthBuild students, and have even more planned through December. Service offers YouthBuild students an opportunity to develop their leadership skills, connect with a broader community, and enjoy the experience of giving back.  We love this photo from a math tutoring session earlier this week!

This is just a small sample of photos representing all that happens in a week at YouthBuild. We’ve had a great first six weeks, and are looking forward to next session!