Last month, I joined four incredible Canberra based entrepreneurs to address the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) on entrepreneurship. The forum is a 12 day residential program for students entering Year 12 who love STEM!
What I love about this event is the passion and enthusiasm the kids have for their preferred STEM area and the pride they have in standing up for what they believe in. Reflecting on my own school experience, being good at maths (having a Mum as a maths teacher to help with homework really helps!) often resulted in bullying or snide remarks forcing hidden passion and success.
The session I facilitated aims to teach the students about entrepreneurship, allows them to grill the panel on their thoughts and then work together to formulate a pitch and present it to the group.
In the panel, we heard of entrepreneurial struggle and hope, of wins and learnings and thoughts. The key comments I took away from the panel discussions were:
- Don't be too focused on formal study. Your passion, drive and ability to learn will ensure that you succeed in what you want to do.
- A strong vision is essential. But remember, it will take longer than you think and be more expensive than you think. Sometimes you have to go through the mountain, not around it.
- Make sure you find your ways and things that motivate you to keep going. Some thoughts on some motivators; a pushy father, a mother who prefers her other kids and "marrying up".
- There is a risk that you may need to weigh the moral aspects of your work against the amount of dollars you can receive. Think early about how you will deal with this.
- Teamwork is essential to motivation and scale!
- Be prepared to look at where the funding is and chase it.
Finally, it was pitch time and we left the students to persuade us as to why their interest area was better than all the others. Never before have I seen a room come so alive, with the students hustling and bustling to get their pitches perfect to convince their colleagues. There was comedy and aspirations, witty remarks and raps. But that stood out the most was their optimism and passion for the world and how STEM will play an essential role into the future.
It's been a few weeks since the 2 events now and I constantly reflect on how motivated the kids were. I ponder what would happen if we nurtured this optimism in the STEM field and allowed them to keep true to who they are, without churning them through a system and removing this drive. We each have our role to play in nurturing our global future and this means allowing our youth to keep dreaming and building them up to ensure they are successful by their own definition.