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Students learn social and business skills in leadership program

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

It is not appropriate to attend a job interview with blue hair, hot pink nail polish, or a "crazy looking" neck tie, student job-seekers have been told.

A group of 23 Clayton County sophomores were given advice on business and social etiquette from former state Rep. Gail Buckner at Clayton State University on Tuesday, as part of the Clayton County Youth Leadership program.

Buckner also explained how, and what, to eat during meals with potential employers, what to wear for interviews, and how to use references on a job application.

"If you're not professional looking in terms of the group you want to do business with, you're probably not going to make a very good first impression," Buckner told the students.

The students met for an entire day, once a month, beginning in October, to learn new leadership-related skills. The participants in the program are recommended by a counselor at their schools, and must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average.

The students learn business, team-building, budgeting, social, public-speaking and conflict-resolution skills through the program. They have to attend a board of education meeting, a county commission meeting, a city council meeting and a town hall meeting. They also are required to do volunteer work in their community.

The students earn points for each activity, and it takes 90 points to graduate from the program. Graduation is held every May. If a student graduates from the program, one-half of a credit is earned toward a high school diploma.

The youth leadership program is offered through the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Clayton program, which teaches leadership skills to business owners.

"It seems like we're a step ahead of other 10th-graders, and I'm looking forward to learning everything that we have left to learn," said Charee Goudy, a sophomore at Morrow High School.

"I like being around other people who have set goals for themselves," said Chauvon Jones, a sophomore at Mundy's Mill High School.

Buckner said she normally doesn't teach classes to participants in the program, despite being on its board of directors. However, some of the things she recommended the students remember when conducting business include:

· Adopt a conservative hairstyle, which isn't colored (pink or blue), when going in for a job interview.

· Have professional looking business cards.

· Don't eat messy foods, such as ribs or spaghetti, during a business lunch.

· Wear a black, blue, pinstripe, or brown suit, with a decent looking neck tie that isn't "crazy looking."

· Wear a conservative-colored nail polish, clear nail polish, or no nail polish at all.

· Don't use someone as a reference on a job application without first checking to see if the person agrees with it.

Buckner has been involved with the program for 14 years. She believes it is a good way to provide focus for the future to high school students.

"It gives our young people an opportunity to look beyond where they are now, and examine what they want to become in the future," she said.