Youth entrepreneurship support isn’t just helping a student understand if he has a viable product or service to sell. So much more goes into it. Even though not everyone will grow up to be an entrepreneur, there are important skills all students can learn when they walk through a process to start something new.
Tomorrow’s leaders benefit from learning while they’re young about how they’re wired, where they fit into the career landscape, what they enjoy and how they’re designed by God to contribute to their community and the world around them.
At Learnwell, we don’t believe everyone is wired to start something new. But we do think all students get to know themselves better when they try.
Where Youth Entrepreneurship Support Begins
You may have heard that entrepreneurship is a growing trend among our next generation. (All you need to do is examine the rise of YouTubers and influencers to see that starting something is definitely part of our kids’ generation.)
But does a person just come up with a great idea and get started? Not usually. Look at the beginnings of Walt Disney, Vera Wang and Henry Ford. They all started something that failed before they became successful.
The path to entrepreneurship teaches students important life skills that they can apply to owning their own business or working for someone else.
Entrepreneurship Trends in 2023
- There are 31 million entrepreneurs in the U.S.
- Sixteen percent of the adult workforce is made up of entrepreneurs.
- About 55% of adults have started a business at some point in their lives.
- The majority of Americans, about 63%, believe entrepreneurship is a good career choice.
Youth entrepreneurship support doesn’t start — as our kids might like us to believe — with YouTube. It starts much like life itself, at a granular, almost cellular level.
Before a person can start their own business, they need to understand what they’re interested in and if they enjoy a specific field.
That’s where the Learwnell job shadow experience can play a crucial role in our students’ ability to understand if a field is actually something they’d want to pursue in real life.
How Job Shadowing Works at Learnwell
In ninth grade, Learnwell students complete four separate job shadowing experiences to help them learn at a high level what those jobs entail. We help families find someone who is in the field that interests their student. In partnership with parents, students set up a time to shadow the person or interview them about their career and skills they’ve learned on their journey to that job.
Real-life skills that students can learn from this experience include presentation and communication skills, business writing, managing a schedule, understanding how to prioritize different aspects of a job, etc.
Our tenth graders then complete two week-long internships. Here, they get to see a more in-depth view of careers that interest them. One of the examples we use is that a student who thinks she wants to be a veterinarian will come away from a one-week internship with one of two understandings:
- I loved it and can’t wait to study to be a veterinarian in college.
- I enjoy animals, especially our family pet, but I don’t want to do anything related to a veterinary career.
Either of those realizations is beneficial.
We don’t believe these experiences give students such a view of careers that they know what they want to be when they graduate from high school. But we do want them to have a deep understanding of how God wired them, their passions, and their talents.
On the path toward starting something new in twelfth grade, our juniors will complete a four-week-long apprenticeship. This extended version of a job shadow experience equips students to get hands-on in a safe environment and contribute to the business or company of their interest. They get the youth entrepreneurship support they need from their supervising teacher, the principal, and of course, you, their parents.
How We Support Youth Entrepreneurs
In their final year of high school at Learnwell, all students will implement plans for their own small business or service program. We guide them, but the ideas and route to get there are all their own.
What skills can a young person learn from job shadowing, interning, apprenticing, and starting something new?
- Many of them will recognize an aspect of calling. The Lord may not show them that they’re meant to continue the business or the service they started, but He might. He also may give them glimpses of related fields they enjoy. For example, if a student begins a small Etsy shop selling hand-made cards, she may realize that she’s got a gift for sales and go into a different type of sales.
- They will have an opportunity to try and fail in a safe environment. Learning happens most deeply in our failures. And even our successes are paved by small obstacles and course corrections. It’s important for students to understand that success as they may define it doesn’t happen overnight.
- Students cultivate their “capacity for innovation,” as Sir Ken Robinson said in his Ted Talk. By being required to think through a business or service they think others need, students get the chance to let their imaginations soar. That’s the kind of leaders we need to solve some of the world’s most complex problems.
- They learn the value of working hard and understanding who they are.
We want students to graduate with more than an academic high school education. Our goal is to help students discover who they are, how God made them uniquely, and understand how that knowledge can propel them into the next phase of their lives.
If you are interested in giving your high school student an experience that teaches him or her real world skills, values, and helps him/her discover who he/she is, we’d like to share more about a Learnwell education. Please reach out to our admissions department, or contact our admissions director, Katherine Christman, at Katherine.[email protected]. You can also reach her at 678-395-6772.