NextPrep: Next Steps for the Road Ahead

December 6, 2016

by Susan Newsham

We often ask young people what they want to be when they grow up, but the often opaque world of jobs and careers leads to a generic response. I saw a stat recently that said a majority of high-school graduates feel unprepared for college and careers. They’re unclear how their interests and talents could be best used in the professional world, and where their focus needs to be now to prepare for a lifelong career. I was in that camp many years ago, too.

As part of our 70th anniversary inclusion initiative, FleishmanHillard’s St. Louis office has set out to help high school seniors get ready for this next phase of their life. We want them to feel excited and prepared for – and less confused about — what’s ahead, whether they are going to college, trade school or applying for a job.

We know college isn’t for everyone. Many times the kids who opt out of higher education are marginalized, no matter what the reason is for their choice. So we’re out to help provide young people with the tools and information to choose what’s right for them and set a path forward. It’s with this lens that we created NextPrep. The program, which is being developed and delivered by counselors from the St. Louis office, will feature five workshops, including: career opportunities; written presentation skills; personal presentation skills; college preparation; and job preparation.

The program is launching with 285 seniors at McCluer High School. These students come from diverse backgrounds, and many of them are growing up in and around Ferguson, Missouri – the city that was transformed from a St. Louis suburb into the birthplace of a national movement. When we talk about inclusivity, we want youth who grew up in this area to see the great opportunities that lie in front of them and nurture the interests and passions they have.

We kicked off the program in November, and colleagues in St. Louis are volunteering by the dozens. We have exactly 70 volunteers and growing – a volunteer for each year we’ve been in business. Feels like fate.