Photo above: Preston Conway pitches his business idea, @Home, to the shark tank panel. Photos by Scott Robertson
By Scott Robertson
More than 300 students from school systems in eight Northeast Tennessee counties took part March 2 in CareerQuest USA Tennessee’s It’s All About Business event at Northeast State Community College. The event is an outgrowth of CareerQuest USA Tennessee, a career fair that last year drew thousands of students to the ETSU minidome. Students at the 2017 event learned about careers in medicine, technology, construction and manufacturing. The It’s All About Business event focused on career paths that translate less well to a traditional job fair environment, yet still offer high-paying opportunities for qualified applicants.
Each student had the opportunity to learn about careers in accounting and finance, financial planning, marketing and human resources. In addition, every student had an interview experience with a human resources professional from a Tri-Cities area business. Students were required to bring their own resumes to make the interview experience as real as possible. In addition, 17 teams of students had the opportunity to compete in a Shark Tank-style pitch competition in front of a panel of area business leaders. The winner of that competition received a $1,000 prize, while the second-place finisher received $500. The event was spearheaded by the Workforce Development office of the First Tennessee Development District.
Wynne Tyree, founder and president of Smarty Pants, a youth and family research and strategic consulting firm based in Johnson City provided the keynote address. “There are those people who sit and talk about things, and those who actually go out and do them,” Tyree told the students, imploring them to be willing to take risks. “You’ll find that life is too short to keep doing the same thing over and over again,” she said. “Get uncomfortable for a while, because if you are always comfortable, you are not growing. The more risks you take, the less competition is around you. There are a million people applying at McDonald’s.”
Tyree also advised the students that if they wanted success in the fields being discussed at the event, they needed to do more than would be expected of them and be willing to discipline themselves to have patience early on. “Average people do what is expected to them,” she said. “Successful people consistently do more. It’s what separates those people who just have a job from people who have really fulfilling careers…and remember that the chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”
The event was sponsored by Bank of Tennessee; Blackburn, Childers & Steagall; Northwestern Mutual and Smarty Pants. Partners included Summit Marketing, Success Dynamics and Northeast State. The Business Journal of Tri-Cities TN/VA was media sponsor.