Packaged For Success™ is not just a portfolio development program – it is a brand – my lifestyle. I founded The Teen Toolbox because I am my client. Through the Packaged For Success Program I deliver the customer service and support that I wanted to receive. I created programs and workshops that were not available to me as a teen.
As a graduating high school senior, I was really unsure of what my life after high school graduation would entail. I had the privilege of having a half day academic schedule put no positive outlet to occupy my time after early release. Side bar – Today I understand that a half day schedule is a privilege. I do not recommend this option unless youth are engaged in productive activities such as gainful employment, an internship, meaningful volunteerism, or college courses. Let me also pause here to say that each high school course is important – I recommend that parents, guardians, and youth workers ensure that their students do not get “senior fever” and blow off any courses – even if those additional credits aren’t needed in order to graduate. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming — my senior year dilemma. I knew I wanted to help people in some way so I picked up the Yellow Pages and found the addresses of at least 20 social service agencies in Washington, DC. I updated my resume and drafted a cover letter and mailed it to each agency. I received a few call backs and was even offered an internship. The internship was not feasible because of time and transportation challenges but 9 years later I became a paid employee of that same organization.
Success means different things to different people. My youth create their own definitions of success based on their assets, values, and interests. Packaged For Success is a continuous process. I have learned a lot by trial and error in the last 21 years but there are 4 key lessons that can be learned from the example I mentioned above.
The four key lessons are:
- Make a decision – Nothing happened until decided that I needed to find a productive way to spend my afternoons.
- Don’t limit yourself – I may have been too naïve to be afraid of rejection so I cast a wide net in my search.
- Evaluate all options – I was honored to receive an internship offer but it was not the best option for me so put I my emotions aside and declined. I believed that there were other opportunities that were a better fit for my life.
- Relationships are important – I did not get the job with this organization because of my actions as a high school senior, however, when I declined the internship I was professional and gracious. I did not leave a negative impression.
Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer
The Teen Toolbox provides youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic enrichment opportunities to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs.