Succeeding in the professional world

TIF students gain networking skills during career training day

The immokalee foundation students learned skills to help them become comfortable and confident in a business setting during a recent workshop held at the Hilton Naples. The career training day reception offered future young professionals proper etiquette and networking skills necessary to succeed in the business world.

The 40 high school juniors and seniors interacted with area business executives who offered valuable insights on entering the workforce as well as the path to their current positions.

The training session began with lunch. Lead by Brenda O’Connor, senior vice president of The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce along with Jennifer Edwards, Collier County Supervisor of Elections, and Shelley Hobbs, Naples Florida Weekly, the three-course formal meal included dining etiquette lessons, the art of conversation and how to dine with ease, as well as how to handle table mishaps, when and how to present business cards, and being a good host.

“This is great that these students are learning skills they will need to be comfortable and confident in a business setting,” O’Connor said.

Following lunch, the students gathered for a networking seminar lead by Ryan Williams, Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, and a reception with some of Southwest Florida’s most successful business leaders. They received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and interact with 40 businesspeople, including executives with NCH Healthcare System and Arthrex, Winn-Dixie, IberiaBank, Beasley Broadcasting Group, Fifth Third Bank, Collier County Library and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.

“These young people are our future in the community and nation, and a talent that needs to be nurtured,” said Allen Weiss, president and CEO of NCH Healthcare System. “The Immokalee Foundation understands the importance of preparing these children for succeeding in the professional world.”

Students gained essential networking skills, how to work a room and the art of conversation, including how to share details in an appropriate manner. They created business cards, which included their college major, in hopes of making connections that could further their potential job opportunities. The students were also encouraged to keep in touch with the business executives they met.

Natrone Means, a TIF student since the seventh grade, will be attending Florida International University and majoring in athletic training,

“TIF gave me a chance of hope.” Means was a freshman at Immokalee High School when his father passed away, “My dad instilled the need to go to college but I didn’t know how I could manage it. TIF’s Take Stock in Children program provided me with the skills, confidence and opportunity to make our dream come true.”

Bob Harden, producer and host of The Bob Harden Show was impressed by the students.

“The young people I met today are terrific,” Harden said. “These students are learning skills that are so important in today’s marketplace.”

The Immokalee Foundation has a range of programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary training, mentoring and tutoring, and opportunities for broadening experiences and life skills development. Information: (239) 430-9122 or

Liz Allbritten is executive director of The Immokalee Foundation and can be reached at

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