Columbia, SC (WLTX) - It takes a lot to be successful in the business world; that's the message the Columbia Urban League shared with teens on Wednesday night.
In groups and one by one, on Wednesday teens filed into USC's Moore School of Business to learn the art of getting and keeping a job. It's part of Columbia Urban League's Summer Work Experience Leadership Program, or SWELP.
"Success is an image," Lopez Martinez told a group of teens. "It's a role. It's a game. But you've got to master that game."
For the past 25 years the Urban League has been connecting teens with employment opportunities during the summer. Before placement, teens and their parents must attend an orientation workshop where they learn character and life skill development.
"Once you get that job it gives you that confidence," explained Michelle Daniels, the SWELP coordinator. "You don't think you can do something or you don't feel comfortable. Once you go through this program you're a little more secure with yourself and your abilities."
The program is for students 14 to 19-years-old and job placements vary. Among the list of employers is the Columbia Police Department, the Department of Social Services, several dental practices and law firms.
Students work 20 hours per week, for two weeks earning $250 for their services.
10th grader Adrian Moore is among the teens in orientation and hopes to one day be a neurologist.
"I want to be able to learn what it's like to work in a work building," said Moore. "So I'll have more hands on experience, I won't only be reading about it I'll actually be doing it."
Martinez is a mentor in the program, offering tips on how to be successful in the business world through a no nonsense approach.
"Look at your body language," Martinez says to a slouching teen. "Hold your head up I want to see you."
Students are taught appropriate dress, positive body language, how to shake hands and leave a lasting impression. Organizers say the experience reaches beyond the workplace.
"I know so many parents that are so pleased," said Daniels. "After they go through the program, they see a difference in their student or child. They realize they're more respectful, they've learned things. They know how to communicate."
For more information on the SWELP program, click here.
SWELP is always looking for local businesses to participate as well.