I was a judge for the DECA mock competition recently. For those of you who don’t know what DECA is it’s a program for high school students that teaches marketing and business skills. At the mock competition students give a presentation on a marketing or business idea or plan to two judges. The judges then give feedback on the student’s presentation, poise, problem solving, delivery, etc. It’s a really fun and rewarding event.
But, this is not a blog post about DECA, it’s about Hope, my co-judge. Between DECA students, Hope and I got to know each other. She shared an incredible story with me and I was so moved by her story I wanted to share it with you, my readers.
Hope grew up in a small depressed town in a home with parents who weren’t the most attentive parents. They didn’t encourage her nor expect much of her. But that didn’t stop her. Hope did well in high school. She shared that of the 220 people who started at her high school only 99 graduated, and of those 99 only 5 went to college. Hope was one of them.
Her family did not have the money to pay for college, so Hope researched scholarship programs and applied to a few. She was accepted by one that required she work in exchange for the scholarship. She had to work hard in addition to staying on top of her studies, but she didn’t complain and did well in school.
Hope attended a scholarship program networking event and found herself standing next to an older businessman. She decided to strike up a conversation. They talked about golf and a variety of other topics. After 45 minutes of an engaging conversation, the man she was talking to revealed who he was, the president of a large bank. He was so impressed by Hope, he told her he wanted her to work for the company. Hope laughed it off thinking he was joking. He persisted and asked for her business card and gave her one of his. He insisted she send him her resume.
Two weeks later Hope had not sent the bank president her resume and in fact had forgotten the whole thing. She then got a call from him. He said, “Hope, I haven’t received your resume. Did you submit it?” Hope admitted she had not. He reiterated again that he wanted her to work for the company and urged her to submit her resume.
Well, long story somewhat short, Hope did submit her resume. She then went through a series of interviews for a management trainee program with the bank. Hope got the job and is now six months into the program. She is incredibly grateful to this man and to the bank. She wasn’t sure given the economy and having a liberal arts degree if she would get a job. But here she is, a young woman from a challenging background who took a risk and talked to the well dressed professional man which led to a fantastic job.
The moral of the story? Well, there are a few morals. The first is, never underestimate yourself. No matter what difficulties you experienced it is possible to do extraordinary things. The second moral is never miss an opportunity to talk to someone. That someone could be the key to a great job, a great client, a great friend or just a great conversation. Hope stepped out of herself and didn’t let her challenging beginnings stop her from shooting for the stars. She aimed well.
Do you know a Hope? Perhaps you came from a similar place. What helped you to succeed? Has taking a chance led to something great?