At school, we’re taught from day one to blindly follow directions or risk facing disciplinary consequences. The school system was built to match labor environments — eight hours a day with short breaks in a controlled setting to make it easier to push young adults into the workforce. Schools say they are preparing students for the future, but they are forcing them to obey commands that expunge all creativity, which is actually robbing students of the ability to pursue a successful future.
Students are taught to reject failure, yet many bright and capable students are left behind because their learning style doesn’t fit into their teacher’s box. Rather than work to help these students understand material, teachers pass them along for the next grade to deal with, giving students a false perception of where they stand academically.
When reality finally hits, it can shatter students’ ambitions for the future and push their dreams into the slow lane. Students are competing instead of collaborating, tearing each other down so they can succeed in a race for rank. The fact is this: our society has put such strain on the grading system that kids are pushed to unhealthy limits each and every day, with teachers that don’t teach them according to the individual needs, and with assignments that are often irrelevant to real-life skills. Even though our failing education system won’t change overnight, there is a way for students to succeed despite it.
Here are 7 things a young entrepreneur can do and get involved in the business world of the 21st century:
1. Join or build an incubator or hackathon: Many companies now have incubators where all the super cool ideas are born. Incubators and hackathons put like-minded creative leaders in one spot to tackle a common problem or invent an idea. Currently, I work as the chief marketing officer for the largest student-led hackathon in the United States. Finding a good hackathon and coming up with ideas might be the start of something big. Most students end up going after their high school visions, so get out in the world and explore your vision!
2. Summer internships: As the millennial generation is entering and beginning to dominate the market, companies need young minds even more than ever. Companies will flip for the chance to gain insight into your generation’s thoughts, desires and habits, so consider a summer internship. If you can provide valuable ideas and insight, you will be unstoppable.
3. Networking: Build a LinkedIn account and start connecting with professionals in your area. My growing network has enabled me to work with some of the top professional leaders and mentors in the country, every day. Networking will help you find people who will build you up, and you will learn abundantly from them in the process.
4. Forget the money: Focus on learning a craft and building a strong track record of following through. If you are hung up on the amount of money you make at the beginning of your career, then a good fast food or entry-level job will be most fitting for you. Money isn’t everything. If you forget about how much you are making in the short run you will win in the long run. I am not suggesting to always work for free, but don’t hesitate to render free services to get your foot in the door and show companies what you can contribute. Author and businessman Zig Ziglar said, “Success must never be measured by how much money you have.”
5. Start a club or organization: Launching a new business successfully takes skill and experience. Knowing how to share your vision with other people is what the big leagues are all about. Starting a club can give valuable experience and understanding what that takes.
6. Fail forward: Learn how to keep going after you fail at something. Don’t give up, and don’t let fear of failure prevent you from giving it your all. Mistakes are what give you wisdom to know what works and what doesn’t.
7. Be real with yourself and build a team: A while back I sat down with Kirk Ballou, a distinguished CEO who has worked with companies like Microsoft, CNN, National Geographic, Nokia and Red Bull. His number one tip to aspiring entrepreneurs: “Be real with yourself. If your dream job is running a business that will require an expertise and you do not have its worth, find a partner(s) that can fill that gap. Too many ‘fail fast’ startups are trying to wear too many hats and handle areas they are not experts in.”
Going beyond School
The truth is that our education system won’t change anytime soon, but you have the choice to understand its shortcomings and work around them. Using your free time to build a skill set for the future is what will place you ahead of the curve.
Understand that graduating high school and getting to college is crucial, but there is a world outside of school with inestimable experiences that a degree will simply never offer. Getting involved in your community, connecting with professionals you admire and building your identity before you graduate high school will help you navigate college and land on a career path that’s best for you.
culled from entrepreneur by Ishan Goel