Business Academy gives students real-world edge

Las Vegas is big enough for residents to enjoy the perks of living in a metropolitan area, yet small enough for them to feel they really belong to a community. We’re a growing city with endless possibilities for young professionals entering the workforce. However, one of the biggest challenges is breaking into that workforce and setting yourself apart from the mass of qualified people competing for the same position.

As I navigated through law school, the Las Vegas Business Academy gave me the chance to peek into the minds of highly successful industry leaders and provided snapshots of how different industries work. LVBA offered me access most students don’t have, and most young professionals don’t see for years. Working alongside professionals who make Las Vegas tick allowed me not only to determine what I liked and disliked; it also opened many doors.

And LVBA benefits businesses, as well, helping them find future employees or partners while giving back to students by providing them with real-world tools and insights.

Las Vegas is a city under constant development. We have seen an increase in startups over the past few years downtown after Zappos came in and rejuvenated the area. However, much can still be done. We need to find new ways to support small businesses and entrepreneurs so starting a business is feasible for anyone who wishes to do so.

I cannot speak for all young professionals, but what seems to be a trend is finding a company that offers a work-life balance. You hear a lot about how millennials are looking for different incentives than previous generations. We want to work hard, no doubt about it, but we also want to be able to enjoy some of the fruits of our labor while we are still young. So, does the job provide the option to work from home at times? Flexible vacation hours? Does the culture of the business give the impression that it cares about the employee, or are employees just numbers who are easily replaceable? People will work extremely hard for you if you invest in them.

LVBA invests in its students. I appreciated being able to hear my mentors’ personal stories, where they started and how far they’d come. I don’t think I met anyone who was handed a business or just fell into a position as vice president or chief financial officer. Each one started at the bottom, learned the industry, worked hard and sacrificed a great deal. I admire that. It mirrors LVBA’s vision and commitment to offering students professional experience that isn’t possible in the classroom.

As a millennial, I don’t subscribe to the idea of entitlement, and I don’t think I’m alone. A significant number of millennials enter the market with an excessive amount of student-loan debt. People don’t want to spend their lives working at a job they don’t like simply to pay off debt they incurred for the sole purpose of securing a job. The aim of LVBA is to alleviate these issues for students, allowing them to join the workforce debt-free.

That said, millennials see employment a bit differently. The expectation of young professionals, specifically millennials, has changed from past generations. Employers expect them to be educated, the more degrees the better. And once on the job, millennials are expected to further pay their dues as the generation before has done. What used to be an entry-level position now often requires a degree. Right or wrong, the expectations for young professionals have increased.

At the end of the day, we all want to find purpose in what we do and to be valued for our work. This goes back to investing in the employees, ensuring they have the skills necessary to succeed while feeling that their work is valued.

Daven Cameron is a recent graduate of the Las Vegas Business Academy, a nonprofit organization that provides selected college students financial aid and mentoring to encourage future business leaders in Las Vegas.