After graduation, a lot of students will realize high school did not cover some seemingly basic adult tasks — things like changing a tire or doing taxes, and even basic interview skills. Students can end up spending years of their lives studying courses like calculus, which, for virtually everyone except a calculus teacher, never gets put to use. 

What about practical professional skills? Concepts like introducing yourself, shaking someone’s hand, writing a cover letter, assembling a resume and getting real world feedback from professionals that are familiar with selecting candidates based on these skills is not an experience every high schooler gets.  There is also the important job of “horizon stretcher,” as I like to call it. This is the person who tells you what is available to you, in your community or elsewhere. They boil down your interests and allow you to mentally try on different colleges or careers. 

Gearing high school students toward professionalism is so important and, as Brittany and I discovered, largely lacking in our Culpeper. After reaching out to a number of community leaders, Brittany and I shaped Leader Launch such that it would fill a niche within the mentoring community without interfering with any existing programming.

When Brittany and I get together from the perspectives of a business owner and an attorney, there are few topics that remain untouched. It was somewhat recently that someone posed the question of things that we wished that we had known before beginning our professional journeys. In addition to winning lotto numbers and answers to some standardized test questions, we listed a number of important professional skills that high schools never seem to teach. 

Suddenly, Brittany jumped with excitement. “We should create a mentor program!” And, after many meetings, hours spent designing a website, and countless conversations about a mentorship “curriculum,” Leader Launch was born. 

Brittany likes to say that she has the more “up by the bootstraps” approach while my resume has a strong collegiate background. Even with the differences in our professional lives, we have both seen the immense potential from the youth in Culpeper. It is important to us both to foster their drive and ambition. At first, we toyed with the idea of opening Leader Launch only for women, but quickly decided that it should be made available for all high school students—and it should cost nothing. 

If you know any high school students who are interested in applying, or if you are interested in becoming a partner, please check out our website: www.candmventures.org. You will find ways to contact us there. We are so excited to launch with our first group in August.  

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