Youth Learns Business Skills for the Future

In this troubled economy, many people are worried about losing their job, and finding a new one if that happens. But one Houston non-profit is training a new generation of business and civic leaders with the skills and the diverse backgrounds for the new economy. From the KUHF NewsLab, Melissa Galvez reports.

"My name is Alton Carr, and I think my brand consists mostly of self- motivation…"

"My name is George McHugh, and I believe in free markets and capitalism…"

"My name is Jonathan Worling, and I'm really interested in psychology… "

The excitement in this room is infectious.  With the economy the way it is, you wouldn't expect anyone to be excited about free markets or capitalism.  But these high school students are in a program called Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and they're all jazzed up about going into business.

"MLT focuses on those key ingredients that are necessary for success."

That's Andrea Hodge, the Executive Director of the organization.

"Management Leadership for Tomorrow offers a program for high performing Latino, African American, and Native American students.  Our goal is to help them build their leadership skills and get awareness of some of the civic challenges that we face in Houston, so that they will eventually return and be part of the leadership in this city."

Any junior in high school could use advice on how to make it in college and build a career. But it's especially true for students whose families don't know much about the process.  Here's student Kierra Lee.

"I would be the first person in my family to go to college, and no one in my family understands what it means by ok, you have to do this application, you have to be in these organizations, and you have to get ready for college, and they just think you're trying to be somewhere away from home."

Students in the program go on trips to Houston businesses and communities, meet with career mentors, learn about applying to college, and take seminars on skills like public speaking.  But their favorite thing to do?  Networking.

"I taught a session on creating your own brand—Brand U"

Valerie Griffin is a seasoned investment professional who is a career coach with MLT. 

"That was to give students an idea of how they are able to create an individual brand just as companies create a brand for the marketplace, create a logo for the marketplace, and that is their face to the world."

Scoring a job or being a successful public servant is all about confidence-knowing who you are and what you can contribute.  Laura Campos, a freshman at Rice, says that the Management Leadership for Tomorrow program gave her the confidence to think of herself differently.

And we would even speak in public to executives of companies, and that's something I never thought I could do.  And so after the program I realized that 'Hey, maybe I could become one of these people, just as successful!'"

And it seems that "those people" are taking note.  Tony Wyllie, Vice President of Communications for the Houston Texans, met with a group of MLT students this year.  He says that they had better answers to tough business problems than even the NFL managers who solved them. 

From the KUHF NewsLab, I'm Melissa Galvez.