Leesburg -- As the job market tightens across the country, it's becoming a difficult task for many seeking employment. Due to economic uncertainty, many industry sectors are decreasing the number of jobs. This means those entering the job market in the future will not only have to be competitive but well trained.
"I believe when you can show what you can do, not just what you know, but you can do, it makes a big difference when everyone has the same basic qualifications," says Walter Burgess.
Burgess is the marketing and education instructor at Lee County High School and sponsor of the school's DECA program which recently received top honors at a national competition for its school based enterprise.
He says, "School based enterprise is a great opportunity because it allows students to apply what they're learning in the classroom. It's instruction because I'm there functioning as their advisor, but they're the ones that are making it happen."
Making it happen through a successful school store. Operated by students, here you can purchase drinks and snacks along with apparel and school supplies.
Matt Johns is the store's CEO. He says, "One of the major things we have to do is to keep things stocked up every week. So every Thursday we go to SAMS and re-stock on different school supply items and candy and drink items. Our vendor for our drinks items is Buffalo Rock. It's vitally important that we keep our store well stocked."
But beyond keeping up with the store duties such as scheduling and financial budgeting - students are also getting hands on training - providing them with a competitive edge in their future career choices.
"It is an extremely good experience for us. It prepares us very well for marketing and management of a store in the future.through this is experience, we are much more prepared for a job because it is a year thing. We have much more control over it, much more responsibility over it," says the store's CFO Quinn Roe.
Lindsey Dellinger, who plans to attend Darton College in the fall said, "It's amazing on our college resumes. It's also going to give us a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with situations like this."
And by providing them with hands on training, Burgess has no doubt his students will have a lot to offer the future business world.
"So many jobs in the future require the ability to make people connections and the ability to present your ideas in a way that people are going to be buying into them. To make the people around you stakeholders, I think that's very important," he says.
The school store, which began 4 years ago, is open in the mornings and afternoons. Next year, the DECA school based enterprise marketing theme is healthy choices. And the school store will begin marketing and selling health food alternatives.
The LCHS school based enterprise program is considered one of the best in the country, achieving Gold Level Certification at DECA's International Career Development Conference in Atlanta.