February 8, 2024

HireSmart Helps Teens Prepare For The Realities of Work Life 

"How many of you have gotten a paycheck?" 

HireSmart Cares founders Mark and Anne Lackey recently asked that question to a roomful of high school students at Jackson Empower College and Career Center in Jefferson, Georgia. 

Several raised their hands. Mark and Anne then led the students on a journey from job interview, to managing personal finances to starting their own businesses. How do you make smart decisions every step of the way? 

HireSmart Cares empowers the next generation by donating to a variety of community efforts aimed at helping children and teens be self-sufficient in years to come. For instance, Mark and Anne provide $2,000 grants to construction teachers in Madison and Jackson County to aid their efforts in developing teens’ hands-on skills.  

But at HireSmart Cares, it's never about just writing a check and walking away. It's about truly being present for youth hungry for knowledge and encouragement.  

“We’re here to try to help you be better in the future and give you some tips,” said Anne to students in Melinda Cochran-Davis’s class at Empower. 

The successful entrepreneurs, owners of six multi-million-dollar businesses, share their time and knowledge with young people who will soon face the challenges of getting a job, managing finances, and looking for potential entrepreneurship opportunities. 

A call to action: HireSmart Cares aims to help youth realize their potential  

The basic theme of their talk? Success is all about attention to detail. 

Mark and Anne emphasize the importance of attention to detail in every aspect of professional and personal life. They draw from their vast experience, illustrating how meticulous planning and execution played a pivotal role in their success. They shared anecdotes from their own careers, highlighting the small but significant decisions that led them to where they are today. 

The concept of “attention to detail” was not just limited to job tasks or business plans, but extended to everyday life decisions such as budgeting, time management, and setting goals.  

Mark and Anne discussed the importance of financial literacy, pointing out common mistakes young people make and offered practical advice on budgeting, saving, and investing. Their message was clear: managing money wisely is a crucial skill, especially for those aspiring to start their own businesses. 

The entrepreneurs also encouraged the teens not to get too down in the face of failure. They shared their experiences with setbacks and how they used them as learning opportunities, highlighting the reality that failure is often a stepping-stone to success.  

Mark and Anne urged the teens to be intellectually curious, to ask questions of others, and to recognize that there is a vast range of options for their future.  

The shared success stories, such as “Tony,” a local teen who made an HVAC industry connection while in high school and now has a profitable job in that field.  

“Tony has been promoted and promoted because he had skill sets that he demonstrated here in class being attentive, being interested,” said Mark. “Tony sat in one of these chairs just like you do.”  

High schoolers are zooming toward the days of paychecks, rent, insurance, and other adult concerns. Mark and Anne want the next generation to face those challenges with skill and confidence. That’s why HireSmart Cares allocates time, tools, teaching, and technology to those efforts.  

To learn more about HireSmart Cares or to make a donation to the nonprofit’s mission to empower today’s youth through skill-development initiatives, visit hiresmartcares.org. 

Article written by Anne Lackey