Summer marks the conclusion of another school year for young people. Like those young folks, I entered this summer with excitement and energy, although for different reasons. While students are excited to spend a summer building experiences and memories of youth, I am excited about what I have seen this last school year, both in young folks we have interacted with and in our team at Austin.
This past year, Austin participated in multiple ACE mentor program sessions, hosted multiple high school student shadows considering careers in engineering and construction, gave presentations to middle schools and high schools, participated in youth career coaching, sat on the boards of non-profits conducting STEM outreach activities, acted as leaders of youth programs at local churches, taught after-school martial arts programs to at-risk youth, conducted sessions with young ladies as part of a women in construction program, and participated in and contributed to the youth entrepreneurship program at the Western Reserve
Historical Society – a hands-on program for Cleveland City Schools 4th and 5th graders. All and all, when I sum up the past school year for Austin in NE Ohio, I think we get a pretty good grade – having connected with, presented to, mentored and supported more than 5,000 young people (K-12, trades programs and college) during the year.
As I reflect on the school year, all those activities, and the many students that I personally met, I have a renewed energy and excitement about the future of our industry and our country.
Many of the young folks that we encounter through these activities, regardless of social standing or background, have energy, passion, work ethic, a desire to innovate and improve, and a high level of intelligence to back it all up. They are also on the cutting edge of technology, with many of the college and high school (and even middle school) students demonstrating skills and capabilities that those of us in the working world today wish we had. All of this is different than what we read in the many articles about the next generation. I no longer believe those articles. I am confident that these young people are going to take over our industry and our country, and bring them both to the next level without any issue.
At the same time, my heart is filled and I am humbled and reminded how blessed I am to work with such amazing people at Austin. Not only are they passionate, dedicated and collaborative members of our Austin team, but they also don’t hesitate to take the opportunity to help develop the youth of our community and future of our industry. In a world that seems focused on self-importance and self-indulgence, we are blessed to have attracted and retained folks that believe in something greater than themselves. Who believe, as our founder did, that it is our responsibility as individuals and as a business to be successful, not for success sake, but so we can give back and add value to our community. Our team derives personal fulfillment in recognizing the blessings we have and gives our most valuable resource – time – to pass along those blessings in some way.
That said, summer isn’t the end or a break for our team’s outreach and giving back engagements. These activities continue throughout the year. Our high school shadow program, international development interns, college interns and co-ops have been a significant addition to our summer staffing in the Cleveland office, increasing our headcount by just under 10% for the summer.
I hope all my friends, associates and business partners are engaging the youth of their communities in similar ways. If you are not, please do – you will be very pleased with what you find. For all those young folks out there looking for an industry and a place where you can make an impact, our industry needs you, and we would welcome you at Austin.
If you would like to talk more about what Austin is doing, or if you are doing interesting things you would like to share, we would love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.