Before they go head-to-head against other high school students today, vying for potential job and summer internship opportunities, Gilbert High School students in Sherrie Hinton’s second-hour class discussed business ethics as part of their final preparations.
“I just think it’s important for students to learn successful work skills,” said Brian Mckeighen, who works for Trilogy Financial Services and is in his second year of coaching students for Junior Achievement’s “You’re Hired” event.
Junior Achievement, which operates locally out of Tempe, is hosting today’s all-day event at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix. The event pits Valley schools against one another, and students and against students, in workshops and competitions to demonstrate business ethics and poise. Students can also compete for real work and internship opportunities this coming summer.
“Last year, we took home four awards,” Mckeighen said about his coaching experience at Chandler’s Basha High School.
And this year?
“They know the plan — I expect them to win,” he said with a smile. “We’ve been saying the whole time, ‘We’re going to beat Basha because Basha won last year.’”
As part of that preparation, Mckeighen has been working with the class for a month, discussing the values of appropriate interview dress, interviewing skills, network building and business ethics, he said.
“It’s important that they learn communicating and networking — and how that can be beneficial for the rest of your life,” he said. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Students in Hinton’s class come from a mixture of educational backgrounds, she said.
“I have a student who is graduating a year early and others that are barely passing their classes,” she said. “I have 4.0 (grade point average) students and 2.0 students. But all of the students work at least 15 hours outside of school.”
The class meets the school’s economics graduation requirement as well as two elective credits, Hinton said.
“Three or four are working 30 to 38 hours a week while they go to school,” she said.
This year will be Hinton’s fourth time at the “You’re Hired” event.
“It’s just a rewarding experience,” she said. “Especially when they get into that room and realize they can get real internships from businesses there.”
“Fifty percent of students in a national poll said they feel pressured to succeed in school no matter what,” Mckeighen said.
The lesson in business ethics asked students if that pressure to be perfect translated to a willingness to cheat or lie.
In different scenarios, the students were asked to choose between cheating and lying or telling the truth. While participating in one demonstration, student Sergio Ramirez asked his friend to help make up volunteer experiences for a college admissions interview.
“If something happens, you’re affected,” said Jessica Aldape, a senior, in response to her classmate’s hypothteical question. “I’d feel guilty if I helped you rob a bank. But if they found out ... you’d have to deal with it.”
Alexandria Martinez, also in Aldape’s group, said that it would be obvious that one would hope their friends would be there to help. As the group “observer” she could only make positive comments after Aldape made her decision.
“Would you help (Sergio) if he wasn’t your friend?” Martinez asked Aldape.
“No, I wouldn’t,” she laughed. “Helping a friend is different.”
But even friendships are irrelevant in some instances. In another exercise, the students were asked if they’d cheat on their work timecard.
“No, I’d never do that,” Ramirez told Aldape and Martinez. “Work is different ... work is paying me.”
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