Friday, March 6, 2009

Selling Out

At the center of the high school international business program was the founder and director. She was a visionary in education as well as a true 80s business person. She was polished with her expensive power suits, classic pumps and bright coral lipstick. Her platinum blond hair was always neat and her nails were flawlessly painted. Although she was middle-aged and always inundated with tasks, she never looked fatigued. She wasn't a head turner but she had an inner confidence and vitality that made her noticed.

There were about 400 students in her program, effectively creating a small school experience within the larger high school. She recruited students to her program by visiting junior highs and going through student files. This sort of access was gained through her tenacious people skills. She would then interview prospective candidates, somehow selling the program and convincing students to sell themselves at the same time.

She related to her students in a collegial manner. She observed us carefully and gave us tasks that would benefit the program. She wasn't one to follow the rules blindly . . . she took risks to get the job done. When her office was backed up with work, she offered me an office aide "class" for one period and immediately switched my schedule around so I could help her. There was at least one teacher who fought against the idea but the director got her way and within a few days I was acting as a temporary school registrar, checking student's transcripts and scheduling them for the next semester. I was told to walk away from the computer if anyone from main administration came into the office.

I got to see firsthand what it took to run the program and I was impressed with her drive. She was the type of person who could comfortably sell something before it really existed. I admire people like that but am much different. I have to get my hands dirty first - build the foundation brick by brick before I can turn around and sell it. People like her make progress happen. People like me make it last.

I am grateful for the opportunities the director provided me with . . . I spent a summer in Japan, shadowed international business people, learned about hotel management and developed job skills before I graduated. OK, maybe Pascal isn't very useful any more but I was primed to start a career before I even stepped foot into college. I was completely sold on the corporate model and I couldn't wait to go after big money. Selling out was the goal.


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