A few weeks ago, I attended an event for high school students hosted by one of the most profitable businesses in the world. During the event, students had the opportunity to meet a variety of employees working for ExxonMobil. Yes, THAT ExxonMobil. Impressively enough, the young people also had the chance to meet and interact with some of the corporation’s presidents.
Opening the day was Alan J. Kelly, President of ExxonMobil’s Fuels and Lubricants division. His charge was to set the tone for the event and to give some words of wisdom to the program’s participants. The youth in the audience attentively listened in the hopes of hearing some magic formula that would guarantee success and the key to landing a high-paying corporate gig. While the message did not offer a magic formula, it was still noteworthy because Kelly offered three pieces of solid advice to the teenagers in the crowd:
Know Yourself – Kelly stressed the importance of self-awareness when making decisions and figuring out next steps. Many opportunities may look attractive, but some moves are ill-advised because they may not fit with a person’s personal philosophy or within the context of their larger life plan.
Work to Build Capacities – Kelly urged the students to develop a variety of marketable skills and talents that will enable them to compete in this increasingly competitive global environment. He drove home the point that “being good is not good enough anymore”.
Develop Influencing Skills – Alan Kelly explained to the students that collaboration and relationship-building are two crucial skills in today’s corporate landscape. He went on to say that almost no one works in isolation and a person’s ability to effectively work in a team is directly correlated to his/her success.
I was pleased to hear a corporate president echo many of the same sentiments that we in K-12 education have been expressing to our students for years. I hope that the students in attendance heed the words of this accomplished professional and put into practice some of his actionable advice.
At the end of each post, I give readers action steps – ways to put the principles discussed into practice.
Today’s action step:
**Choose five major companies and search their websites for entry-level positions. Note the skills and qualifications that are required to be a successful candidate. Think about how your skills, interests and qualifications match up with the job descriptions.