The West Hempstead Chamber of Commerce hopes to help local high school students consider their career paths at a business expo on Oct. 23. Chamber President Marshall Myers said the group decided to host the event in the interest of giving members a chance to tell teenagers their own stories.
“Anybody can tell their story, and that’s where I believe the business [world] today is lacking, is face-to-face communication,” Myers said. “Many of us just don’t realize the impact that we can have on someone.”
Another reason for the event, he said, is that he believes it’s harder for teens to figure out what they want to do because of information overload. Bringing students and local business people together in mentorships may make it easier for young people to discuss their future careers.
“Many of the students are unsure what to study in college when they graduate,” said Myers, who has been a real estate broker for more than 20 years. He added that it is important for students to have mentors.
Chamber member Sagine Pierre, the owner of Sage & Angie Boutique, echoed these sentiments. Pierre said that even with 20-plus years of experience in retail, she still leans on her mentors today. “I have an associate’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s in accounting, so I thought I knew a little bit about business to go and do it on my own,” she said. “But once I got out there, I realized there’s a lot more that goes into it. Having a mentor is a must, because they’re able to offer insight that’s current, relevant and stuff that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Events like the business expo, Pierre said, give teens a sneak peak at everything that goes into being a businessperson. Often, she said, she has to wear a number of hats. In just two years as owner of a boutique store, she said, she has been a photographer, a social media marketer, a sales manager and an accountant.
“The behind-the-scenes of owning a business is a lot of work,” Pierre said. “When you’re a small business, you can’t afford to hire all these separate people to do those jobs. You’ve got to be the one to do it all, but on top of that, you have to be willing to take on that challenge.”
Myers said that he also hopes that the business expo, which he believes will be the first event of its kind, will build interest in the chamber. The organization, he said, still needs local support, and in turn, for local businesses to survive, they need to engage in the community.
“This business expo is meant for both students and their parents,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for people of all ages to learn about what we have to offer.”
The free event will take place at the West Hempstead Fire Department, at 295 Hempstead Turnpike, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 23.