Trend Whisperer, a blog by Sherri Scheck-Merrill
Who says Boomers can’t get along with today’s high school students? I am happy to report that a new trend is developing among hard-working high school students who desire job experience before graduating! As most of us parents know, the “experience section” on college applications has been deemed vital, so high school students are reaching out to mentors and businesses asking for any opportunity to explore potential careers. It’s a big Boomer opportunity!
The desire to learn about a variety of fields and professions along with acquiring the understanding of what skill sets are necessary to develop a rewarding future is tipping the trend charts at high schools everywhere. It’s also the premise
behind my membership-based career-exploring program, Omics LIVE, which has attracted students from 11 high schools in my home base of Orange County, California.
Based on research, I created an agenda that takes my students “live and behind the scenes” via monthly “Tour Stops” – project-oriented short-term internships. The students have coined these internships as “Pop-Ups,” and all are extremely teenage-friendly and popular. “Our student members are very enthusiastic and look forward to receiving their monthly invitation to explore a new field, industry or business,” said our Community Relations Manager Danica Kassebaum.
The most popular program created by Omics LIVE is Fashionomics LIVE. It’s coordinated by staff of 20-somethings who tell me they would have desired the program when they were in the process of declaring a major or were in search of their first internship.
College Interns from Chapman University, University of California/Irvine, Arizona State University and Washington State University participating in Omics Live via live or remote Internships are using the program to enhance their own skill sets by handling the Omics operational tasks. They’re also enjoying the fruits of their labor by networking with local business owners and earning work experience credits.
The program hook for the students has clearly been fashion because this is a field students are comfortable exploring in their younger teenage years. Regardless of what major our students will eventually declare, universally, the fashion
business opens the mindset of our students to an unlimited number of professions.
Touring a diverse collection of businesses, students learn about small business ownership, product development, design, retail, wholesale, licensing, operations, strategic sourcing, social media, journalism and philanthropy. Traditionally, the Tour Stop model begins in the meeting room where upper level management such as the CEO, Founder, Creative Director, Designer or Marketing Manager reveal firsthand what they majored in, how and where they found their inspiration and what measures they took to be in the position they are today. Often, they use candid examples of why they hired someone or what they are working on behind the scenes. Often, the program is asked to sign non-disclosure agreements, and on several occasions, the students are charged with a hands on project or focus group assignment by the business itself.
A few of our most popular Southern California “Tour Stops” have included Hurley, Element, Bloomingdales, South Coast Plaza, Manhattan Beachwear, The California Mart, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Majestic Pet Accessories, among many other businesses that have opened their doors. This group of ambitious students also takes great pride in their status as the official internship program for a premiere Style Lounge affiliated with both the Academy Awards and the Emmy Awards, where they slip into front-of-the-house roles ranging from Front Desk registration to photography and interviewing.
Fashionomics LIVE is a unique multi-year experience that serves as an exceptional asset before students select a college or decide which profession to study. One member, Alia Manetta, recently shared with me that her dream job “would be working as a Chief Surgeon while running a health care facility (hospital) in an underdeveloped country.” Another member, Sara Groux, said, “I would love to own my own couture company. I have dreamed of designing couture since I was 5 because I love the art of it and Fashionomics has shown me firsthand what I can expect behind the scenes in such a challenging and competitive industry.” Cast executive Stephanie Javadi is in the midst of exploring many professions ranging from interior design to dentistry and regardless of which profession she chooses, she says Omics LIVE has taught her what is required in running your own business.
Clearly, Omics Live has many unique personalities and, as a result, provides diverse Tour Stops that give each individual a well-rounded experience. For example, last week, several students held a human brain while touring UCI MIND, the institute for memory impairments and neurological disorders at University of California Irvine, where they met with several scientists who are involved in Alzheimer’s research. A few of our Omics LIVE members are exploring the idea of entering into a medical profession. And next week we’ll be meeting with a small business focused on product development and manufacturing of pet accessories and home furnishings for Wal-Mart, Costco and Petco.
Now THIS is a great, rewarding Boomer business trend that keeps us in touch and working with younger Millennials as their trusted, even fun and entertaining mentors and advisors, would you agree? I’d love to know your thoughts about this and other business trends with multi-generational opportunities.
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Sherri Scheck-Merrill is a hospitality industry professional with a passion for excellent hotels and resorts. She is passionate about hotels, interior design, fashion, and beauty. As Vice President of Amenity Services Inc., she focuses on hotel business development and guestroom product design. She distinguishes herself by researching, teaching and reporting U.S. trends for her own fashion and export business.
She is a three-time nominee for Businesswoman of the Year by California’s Orange County Business Journal. A UNLV student-athlete/Harvard Executive Education Consumer Marketing graduate, she licenses popular retail brands for hotel guestrooms.
After spending several years on a tennis court, followed by the role of head buyer at the largest West Coast-based sporting goods and fashion apparel export company, her knack for predicting trends landed her a columnist position at Orange Coast Magazine. She is also the author of the biannual trend-forecasting report for a major retailer in Osaka, Japan, and writes a popular blog about trends for Hotels – the magazine of the worldwide hotel industry.