For some students, the search for apprenticeships through the Noble 301 program (a part of the Noble Impact organization) has not yet turned up concrete opportunities; nonetheless, we have all learned many valuable skills. In class, my peers and I have built personal pitch decks, learned the ins and outs of networking, and met with the founders of several local startups to learn more about that portion of the local entrepreneurial community.
In the process of reaching out for opportunities, one is frequently faced with the request, “tell me a little bit about yourself.” Often times, this is met with jumbled, unorganized, and drawn-out responses that may or may not reflect one’s best and most redeeming qualities. In class, these Noble Impactivists were required to build a 60-second pitch deck that briefly but effectively conveys who they are, what they are passionate about, and what their value to a potential partner company is. At the end of this process, many students pitched themselves to Graham Cobb, Chief Operating Officer of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, who was able to introduce some to possible apprenticeship matches. Through the process of focusing their own ambitions, these students learned more about themselves as individuals and as a classroom-based community.
The students who already knew Chad Williamson, the eStem High School Noble 301 facilitator, know that networking is what he cites as the best way to build one’s resources for personal benefit and to gain future opportunities. The members of the Noble 301 class were all required to build LinkedIn profiles, create bio pages, and add their profile to a comprehensive Noble ‘class showcase’ sheet. Chad is hoping that these resources can be used by students and Noble Impact to effectively reach out to others in the community in order to obtain more unique and personable opportunities. In addition, these bio pages and LinkedIn accounts are tools that students can use for professional networking through college and the rest of their careers.
What the Noble 301 class seems most enthusiastic about is being able to meet and collaborate with startup founders in the local community – but maybe that’s just because it sometimes involves things like taking a trip to a corner office on the 31st floor of Simmons Tower (as was the case with meeting the kind folks from Apptegy). The class has had guest speakers at the Venture Center that include David Allan from Apptegy; Wayne Bashay, founder of Bodies by Bashay; Big Piph, local musician and producer; and Jordan Carlisle, creator of the Strengthen app. The best of these speakers had impactful stories to tell, filled with fistfulls of life lessons (and apprenticeship offers for the ever-so-eager pupils).
A majority of these high schoolers were already familiar with the concept of startup companies; some of us have even founded our own companies over the years. Already, this has lead to increasingly ironic situations involving innovative startup owners explaining the concepts of “traditional businesses” and “office jobs” to these aspiring young students. But this irony is not to be made fun of.
These students are a part of a generation unlike any other; they have access to an unprecedented number of resources and opportunities for self-development. Nowadays, business isn’t something just for those who read Fortune…