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Teens Learn About Future Possibilities

Next Level 4 Teens organizes career day for local students.

Almost 20 middle- and high-school students gathered at Lansdowne Resort, Tuesday, Feb. 28, to learn about what it means to have a career in the hospitality industry. The career day was the first of several events in Next Level 4 Teens' 2007 Teen Leadership Conference program, which will continue throughout the spring.

"We want to try and plant some seeds," Fred Mitchell, Next Level 4 Teens' founder, said. "I am all about the next generation and who's coming in behind me."

The leadership conference hopes to bring local teenagers together with real-life professionals in Loudoun to provide role models to students as they plan for their future.

"Being in Loudoun County is the greatest opportunity to figure out what you need to do to be successful," Mitchell said.

DURING THE TUESDAY career day, the teenagers learned not only about the hospitality industry, but basic information about careers and finding a job. They asked questions about 401ks, retirement plans and the best way for them to get started in hospitality industry.

"This is a brand new day for us, working with Next Level," Judy Brown, who helped organize the event, said.

Stacy Pedersen, director of human resources for the resort, told the students about the benefits of working in the hospitality industry, such as working with people and doing something different every day, but that they needed to be willing to work from the ground up.

"Start now looking at, 'I'm never going to get the job I want unless I do well in the job I have now,'" she said. "There are a lot of opportunities for promotion in the hospitality industry."

Representatives from each of the resort's departments, including the restaurant, golf, fitness and sales, gave the attending teens a special tour of the resort. The students learned how the resort functioned every day and what they might expect if they pursued a career in the hospitality industry.

"Getting started is not about experience necessarily," Pedersen said. "There are other factors involved."

IN ADDITION, members of the resort staff talked to the students about how to act during a job interview and how to be successful from the very beginning of the chosen careers.

"We are no different that a lot of other organizations," Tom Manno, managing director of the resort, said. "Whether it's Lansdowne or [a local] bank, we will look at, what do you look like? How do you speak?"

Manno told the teenagers that attitude is the No. 1 thing that most employers look for when hiring for a position, including a person's body language and their eye contact.

"All of that is what's important when you are coming into the workforce," he said. "It is about how you communicate about what your experience is."

After telling the teenagers the story of how he became managing director, Manno told them not to be afraid to explore the things that they are passionate about because they might find a career in it.

"Start looking and asking questions now about the thing that you enjoy," he said. "It's really up to you."