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Teach Entrepreneurship for a Week = Change Young People for Life

Currently in Tasmania, I'm teaching innovation and entreprenurship in a number of industry areas to hundreds of students every year. This way, the students get an understanding of what it takes to start and run a business, so they can either go out on their own and create jobs for their peers, or at the least get an understanding of what goes into a business, so when they start work they have a greater appreciation. The balance is making the process fun and interesting, getting the schools and industry groups on board, and making it academically worthwhile too. It can be done - and then these young people are prepared for the new economy.

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These programs are already running in Tasmania, and we're looking to take them further to inspire innovation and entreprenuership in more people across the globe. While we've got hundreds of students doing these challenges already, there is room for thousands more...

Below is the information that we use in our proposal for these types of week-long education programs, and also a bio for me personally, so you understand my mindset and what drives me.

Adam Mostogl Bio
Adam Mostogl is a passionate 26 year old who believes that for something in the community to be done, people need to get out and do it! With a (some would say boring) strategic mind, Adam looks at how to empower the community to create change, especially in the way of engaging young people to be integrally involved in the process. For these reasons, Adam started illuminate SDF in 2010. His business won the 2012 & 2013 Business Mentoring & Renewal Awards from the Launceston Chamber of Commerce, and Adam personally was recently recognised as the 2014 Young Citizen of the Year at Launceston City Council’s Australia Day Awards for his business, education, community and charity endeavours, and was the winner of the leadership & innovation award at this year’s Tasmanian Young Achiever Awards.

The illuminate:nextgen Challenge (our five day program)
The hardest part of this is outlining everything that I can achieve in a five day week with these students, how I operate, and the process that I undertake. The challenge is focused on developing skills to be an innovative person, through an engaging and interactive education experience. The text will introduce you to the major elements that make up an illuminate:nextgen Challenge to give you an understanding of what is involved and what the students will get out of the experience, but if you have any further questions after reading this, please don't hesitate to contact me with more questions.

Format of an illuminate:nextgen Challenge
While the actual structure and schedule of the challenge will be confirmed in the lead up to the challenge, below is the basic format of an illuminate:nextgen Challenge. The challenge is designed to fit into a Monday to Friday week, so the stress and pressure applied during the week can be lifted by the time the weekend begins.

Monday
The students will be introduced to the challenge and given a number of presentations about core elements to kick start their thinking. This day is mainly about creative thinking and ways to add to the conceptual ideas they’ve come up with.
 
Tuesday
Students will get important marketing and finance presentations, as well as an opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of business people to expand on their initial thoughts, as well as time to being preparing initial presentations.
 
Wednesday
Students will have an opportunity to undertake market research on their chosen business idea, as well as begin preparing for final submissions. The students will work from their own school and communicate via Twitter.
 
Thursday
Students will begin handing in key submissions, which will be emailed to judges to review and give feedback on The students will work from their own school and communicate via Twitter.
 
Friday
The final day of the challenge is where students will pitch their idea and share other core elements of their idea to judges and the public. The day finishes with an awards presentation that the community can attend where the students are celebrated and the general public can see the concepts they’ve come up with over the week.

Submissions Produced in an illuminate:nextgen Challenge
To prove the viability of their business concept, each team is required to produce the following over the course of the week;
  • Creative Thinking Process. It’s not easy to track this, so across the week students will submit their Business Model Canvases which will be constantly tweaked in response to questions asked by the facilitators of the challenge where their assumptions are challenged, alongside market research which students will undertake during the challenge.
  • Business Plan. This is an integral document for any business to outline the strategy behind the business, and in the instance of the challenge, students have to also forecast two years’ worth of financials.
  • Marketing Package. To demonstrate their marketing strategy, each team has to produce two thirty second radio advertisements, one full page newspaper advertisement and a social media marketing page.
  • Sales Pitch. In five minutes, the students need to pitch their idea to a panel of judges to prove its financial viability and how realistic their concept is. This could involve a number of interactive elements as well as a PowerPoint presentation if the students wish to use it.
  • Trade Display. Much like at a major convention, students are required to construct a trade display from which they can sell their business from. It is assessed by judges on how well they use the materials and sell their idea, as well as having an opportunity to present to parents and VIPs at the Awards Ceremony.
  • Pressure Cooker. In forty five minutes, teams are required to adapt their business’ operations, marketing and financial plans in response to a real world situation
  • And an industry specific task, such as a logistics plan if students have to understand how to do trade internationally for example, that integrates into other submissions and only gives students a deeper understanding of what the challenge is focusing on.
This might seem a lot of work to be done in the space of a week, but as the students work in a team of seven, it is achievable through delegation. Depending on how the students are working, illuminate SDF also prepares a number of short challenges that we announce throughout the week with approximately sixty minutes to complete them, because we all understand that in the working world that there are always little things that just seem to pop up!

The Core Challenge of illuminate:nextgen Challenge
At the centre of the illuminate:nextgen Challenge, the students, in their teams of seven, have to come up with a business concept that solves a set problem. This set problem, called the ‘Core Challenge’, is announced to the students at 9:35am on the Monday morning – not before the challenge starts, though, so no eager student can prepare and undertake research before the challenge starts. The core challenge of the program can easily be designed to meet the requirements of the partners to have students investigate specific industries, whilst remaining realistic so the students can understanding how it could truly operate in the real world. As the solution that the students will create will be a viable business, they can still create all of the major submissions as they relate to normal business operations.

Some of these ideas that students have created have been investigated by businesses in the local area to get them started for real because they have been so well planned and developed, with other teams staying together as a group to start the business for themselves - showing the ideas are not simply created to meet the requirements of the challenge, but for the real world.

Other Elements of an illuminate:nextgen Challenge
While the focus of the challenge is on the above components, there are a number of other elements that illuminate SDF have designed into the illuminate:nextgen Challenge to make it an incredible education experience that is unlike anything else students would undertake at school.
  • Pressure & Stress. The week is called a challenge for a reason. Over the course of the five days (most likely on the Wednesday or Thursday), the students will feel pressure and stress unlike anything else they’ve experienced at school previously. While it makes the week sound intense, by students experiencing this while still in school, teachers can support students if they do feel overwhelmed to help them develop strategies to cope with pressure and stress in future situations.
  • Lecture & Tutorial Style. The students who undertake the challenge are very used to the classroom environment, whereas the illuminate:nextgen Challenge is structured a little differently. With presentations delivered like lectures in a dedicated presentation space and the breakout room used like a tutorial session, the challenge essentially mirrors the way that students would study at university.
  • Presentations by Professionals. All of the presentations are delivered by professionals who work in those fields, so instead of learning from textbooks, the students will learn from the real life experience that the professionals have learnt on the job. This gives an extra level of authenticity to their presentations, and often what appears to be presented as anecdotal comments are often remembered by the students when it comes to presenting at the end of the week.
  • Judged by Professionals. All of the student work is judged by professionals and people outside the school community, which the students strongly respond to. Because of this experience that these judges have in the real world, when they make a comment about what the students have presented, the students really respond and react.
  • Use of Social Media. To communicate with teams over the course of the challenge, we use Twitter in a way to show students how social media can be used effectively. This is vital on the Wednesday and Thursday of the challenge, as students work from within their own schools while still being able to communicate with the facilitator at all times.
  • Self-Directed Teams. By Monday afternoon, each team will have chosen a team leader who will be given the role of being a CEO. From that point on, the CEO will lead how the teams work, setting the agenda for their team and ultimately being responsible (at least in the eyes of the facilitator) for their team meeting deadlines. For many students, this will be the first time they work within the school week where they set their agenda for the whole week, but when the students finish up at school, working through self-direction is the way everyone has to work or study to succeed.
  • No Rest Breaks in Schedule. In the handbook, students are only given start times to the presentation sessions and deadlines for submissions. This allows for teams to decide what they do outside of these sessions, especially when completing the first two days of the challenge. They could relax and spend their whole time outside, or work hard in the dedicated breakout space, even to the point of having recess and lunch breaks in the work space - but ultimately it’s the decision of the students on how they use this time.
  • Immersive Multifaceted Challenge. Over the course of the week, students on the team will get an opportunity to try their hand at a number of different skills, including strategy, planning, graphic presentation, logistics, public speaking, audio production, formal writing amongst others. This could see a student get an opportunity to try out a skill that could excite them to the point that it could be their chosen career path, in an immersive way that they would not get to try in school easily.These elements are only some of the aspects to the challenge. As the challenge is confirmed and the schedule matches the needs and outcomes of the partners, other elements could be introduced that further enhance the student experience.

Sorry for the overload of information there.

If you want to know more, check out www.illuminatesdf.com.au/nextgenbtc/ to read about our Tasmanian challenges - and contact me directly if you'd like to know more, or more importantly, help offer this opportunity for students in your local area.

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Sounds like you're doing great work, Adam! Tip: to activate the link at the end of your post, hit the Update Entry button up there on the right, then follow the instructions here: http://bit.ly/oi_link  

Perhaps you might invite some of your students (former and current) to join this challenge so they can share first-hand what they've learnt, what they've found difficult, what parts of the course they found most resonant and how the course has changed their career pathways. Could also be cool to have them onboard now so you can all join us for the upcoming Ideas phase too.