Last year, I co-founded Engaging Young Entrepreneurs (EYE); a youth-run, non-profit organization helping youth “get a grip on business and entrepreneurship”.
To this date, we have engaged with more than 500 students in the Kingston, Ontario community, most recently with our en-GAGE With Careers Event.
About en-GAGE With Careers
en-GAGE With Careers was 2-day long event planned for December of 2019, and focused on career development within business and entrepreneurship for students in grades 8 to 12. This was done through speaker presentations given by university students and community members, paired with interactive workshops, run by our team and external organizations, for the students to partake in directly after. The whole event was made possible by our executive team, and support from Kingston DECA, the Canada Service Corps, the Government of Canada, and the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre.
The Event’s Spectacular Sessions
Session 1 was focused on the idea of “where to start”, and the questions that students may have about the post-secondary process, potential career pathways, or business and entrepreneurship. Our speakers included KCVI’s Head of Student Services and the founders of HeroHub, a start-up that connects local charities and non-profits to individuals seeking opportunities.
Their presentations were followed by our first workshop for both days, the Design Thinking Workshop run by two DDQIC program coordinators. This workshop focused on idea-brainstorming and that a business idea must solve a real-life problem that is identified through observation.
Session 2 focused on the concept of “The Fundamentals”, within career development as well as business and entrepreneurship. With this session we wanted to introduce to students exactly what entrepreneurship is and elaborate on some of the concepts heavily related to it. Our speakers included the founder and CEO of BizSkills Academy.
Session 2’s workshop was “Endeavours” which mimicked a Monopoly-style board game that allowed students to explore fundamentals of career development, business and entrepreneurship through the game’s rules and goals.
In Session 3, speakers discussed the idea of “risking failure”, a concern expressed by participants of our Career Development Survey. In this session the audience heard from local entrepreneurs, learning about their journeys and what obstacles they faced along the way.
Our speakers included an 18-year-old entrepreneur and social media guru, as well as the founders of StudentsWithStartups, an online blog that highlights entrepreneurs in our community.
After the presentations, attendees then had a chance to face some risk of their own in our Session 3 workshop, “Sold!”, which was a blind auction. The goal of the workshop was for students to accumulate the most value by spending the least amount of money, testing their collective risk tolerance.
Session 4 focused on passion and inspiring creativity. Speaker presentations showed the students that anyone when one dives into business or becomes an entrepreneur – they need to be passionate and open to creativity.
The final workshop of the day was “The Innovation Initiative”, where students were asked to create an innovative product out of household items and pitch it to their peers and a “panel of investors” composed of executives to win a candy prize.
After conducting a post-event survey we learned that students greatly enjoyed hearing from the entrepreneurs and participating in our workshops, especially when it came to learning about risk and chances to exhibit their own creativity.
en-GAGE With Careers ran successfully at the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre on December 5th and 16th, 2019, with over 200 students in attendance. It was those 200 students that our team and community participants effectively engaged, informed, and inspired to take action, and seek career choices in business and entrepreneurship.
At the beginning of this month, my co-founder Myra and I competed in the DECA Ontario Provincial Competition, presenting our organization and the en-GAGE With Careers Event. After the competition, we were thrilled to learn that we qualified for the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Nashville, Tennessee in April of this year. We are excited to have the chance to present EYE at the international level and appreciate the hard work of our executive team and all of the support we have received in order to make this a reality.
Expanding Our Efforts
While en-GAGE With Careers has concluded, our activities will not be stopping there. In Spring of 2020 Engaging Young Entrepreneurs will be continuing the theme of career development in business and entrepreneurship by running a series of interactive seminars in downtown Kingston. These seminars will be open to high school students of all ages, covering a variety of career-related topics such as resumes, LinkedIn, personal finance, and social media marketing!
We also hope to expand our organization’s efforts to connect with youth across Canada, by introducing a Canada-wide blog through our website, engagingyoungentrepreneurs.com. The blog will encourage students of any age to apply as writers, contributing monthly articles in the categories of Profiles, Resources, Opportunities, and Opinions.
I am wholly amazed at how far the organization has come this past year, and cannot wait to see what our team will continue to accomplish further into 2020!