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Photos by Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Students from 23 schools in northeast Indiana took part in Friday’s Tech Fest 2014 at Ivy Tech’s South Campus.

TechFest author tells teens: Risk failure

DeKalb High School students, from left, Sage Mentzer, 18, Tiler Hettinger, 18, Jordan McDaniel, 17, and Sean Mentzer, 18, work on designing a video game.

Live your dream.

Know yourself.

Fail fast, fail often.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

These were some of the maxims a gaggle of tech-savvy high school students were treated to Friday by Erin Albert, an entrepreneur and author of several books.

These teenagers hooted when Albert, who is also an assistant professor at Butler University, told them to embrace their weirdness and laughed when she talked to them about failure.

“The train to Awesometown goes through Suckville,” she said, referring to the need to fail at something before becoming good at it.

Albert was the keynote speaker at TechFest 2014, which attracted more than 300 area high school students to the Public Safety Academy/Ivy Tech South Campus.

The expo allowed the teens to compete in events that included web design, video-game design, math and forensics as well as partake in educational sessions.

These sessions included the “The Killer Résumé,” “For Girls Only!” and “How to Start a Business While in High School.”

The fest, which began several years ago when 50 students attended, is growing fast, according to organizers.

Albert is director of continuing education and preceptor development and director of the Ribordy Center for Community Practice Pharmacy at Butler University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

She closed this year’s event by giving students pointers on how to achieve their dreams in their professional lives.

A pharmacist who was laid off on her 29th birthday, Albert, also an attorney, has written eight books about topics as varied as pharmacy, regional community development and entrepreneurship.

She published her first children’s book this year.

“Think back to the last day when you didn’t notice time go by,” Albert said to the students.

Whatever they were doing, Albert said, is probably a good indication that’s what they like to do.

Albert stressed the importance of social media and how even employers are going to be asking for their Klout Score.

That’s a number between 1 and 100 that represents a person’s influence on social media, according to the company that created such a number.

“Social capital is important,” Albert said. “You will be looked at and assessed by your Klout Score.”

She told the teens about the importance of networking, especially in today’s hyper-connected world.

She told them they can have a full-time job and be a part-time or even full-time entrepreneur on the side. And she told them to never stop dreaming, that they will still have dreams later in life.

“I still have dreams to come,” she said.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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