By: Keon Massey, 12th Grade NFTE Student
I didn’t know anything about the fundamentals of business when I was first introduced to the entrepreneurship class at my school, but I knew that I loved marketing. In September, my NFTE class went on a field trip to the Philadelphia Convention Center to meet and work with professionals from Ernst & Young. At the EY Connect Day, I was introduced to Mrs. Sylvia McKinney, the executive director of NFTE Philadelphia, and the business world. We all had an assignment to develop a better business plan from a business assigned to us at random. The group that I led performed perfectly, and we won the competition that day.
That was just for starters
At this point, I already felt like I had accomplished a lot. After we left the convention center, we went to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, where I was introduced to the rest of the NFTE staff including Mrs. Beth Dyson, program manager, NFTE Philadelphia. While listening to Mrs. McKinney explain the role of the Chamber, I heard her mention something about a business networking breakfast where all business owners and representatives come together and meet and greet. I gravitated toward this and asked a question in the middle of the presentation that changed my life. It was simply: "How do I become or attend a part of this networking event?"
Mrs. McKinney was intrigued by my question and instructed me to speak with her after the lecture. I did just that. The event was $75 a ticket just to attend. A donor of NFTE’s offered me a seat at his table. On October 24, 2012, I was in a room full of about 1300 people. Not just ordinary people but people with a purpose.
I never felt so important in my life until then. Being the youngest in the room I definitely didn't feel intimidated. Doing something that I'm good at and get rewarded for it? I felt great! I couldn't thank Mrs. McKinney enough for the opportunity. At the breakfast, I met the President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Rob Wonderling.
I went home that day feeling a step closer to my dreams. Shortly after this, a month later to be exact, I was at the Visionary Gala for NFTE Philadelphia. Again, this is somewhere I never expected myself to be. I was featured in a video for the gala. I was truly networking. It was great. I was fortunate enough to sell raffle tickets for the event and I sold many tickets alongside Lindsay Thomas, another wonderful NFTE employee. The venue was beautiful.
I am glad that my one little question took me this far, and I was able to prosper so much from it. I appreciate the NFTE program and the Chamber of Commerce, and I only look forward to much more down the line. I know my hard work will pay off.