7 programs to help harness your inner entrepreneur

young high school entrepreneur skills

You don’t need a uni degree – or even to have finished high school – to start your own business. Here are 7 programs that will help you on your journey to becoming an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship, STEM and the future of jobs go hand in hand. In our increasingly digitised world, the nature of work is changing. More of us are working from home, harnessing digital technology and diversifying our skills to adapt. This means more of us are well placed to dip our toe in the waters of starting a business, and there’s no reason that can’t be while you’re still in high school!

In fact, with tech at our fingertips, combined with more time on our hands and increasing uncertainty in the job market thanks to the pandemic, high school students and entrepreneurship are having a moment.

“Entrepreneurship is critically important in this new and changing world because it allows individuals to be in charge of their own destiny, capitalise on their skills and feel motivated to create their own future,” says the Australian Government’s myfuture website.

RELATED QUIZ: Are you a future entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is all about having an idea and making it happen. According to Forbes magazine, the key skills for entrepreneurs include problem solving, risk taking, knowing your numbers (how will you track and measure success otherwise?), being flexible and adaptable and valuing teamwork.

Notice something? Yep – these skills are valuable in any career! So even if your ultimate career path isn’t as an entrepreneur, trying your hand at starting your own business can also be a great way to pump your CV before finishing school or uni.

Here are seven programs and competitions all aimed at helping Aussie high school students harness their inner entrepreneurial spirit:

1. Westpac Youth Impact Challenge

The Westpac Youth Impact Challenge invites young Australians aged 7 to 21 to draw on their entrepreneurial skills by coming up with a business or social change idea to solve a problem in their local community. Westpac also partners with the Australian School of Entrepreneurship to offer Youth Impact HQ, an interactive online course in entrepreneurship for 7 to 21 years olds.

Find out more

2. Academy for Enterprising Girls

The Academy for Enterprising Girls is a free program open to all Australian girls aged 10 to 18, funded under the Australian Government’s Women’s Leadership and Development Program, designed to cultivate young women’s skills in design thinking, entrepreneurial and business skills. The Academy offers free face to face workshops, free online tutorials and resources for teachers, students and parents.

Find out more.

3. AASYP Reset Challenge

This is a great one for a budding entrepreneur with an eye for diplomacy, development and international career goals. AASYP stands for ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership, and was founded to improve cooperation and understanding between Australia and South East Asian countries. AASYP Reset is a virtual challenge which invites young people across Australia and South East Asia to collaborate and develop innovative solutions promoting inclusive economic growth through education. This is an opportunity to develop cross-cultural networks and present your ideas in a public forum. Registrations for the 2021 challenge have closed, but look out for future events!

Find out more.

4. Upstart Challenge

Free for Australian high school students, the Upstart Challenge encourages and inspires young people to develop critical thinking skills and connections and find their “inner changemaker”. The challenge involves entrepreneurial design thinking lessons, accelerator workshops, mentorship and a pitch showcase with the chance to win cash prizes.

Find out more.

5. Generation Entrepreneur 

Generation Entrepreneur partners with NSW businesses and industry to help the next generation harness their entrepreneurial spirit with a mission “to become Australia’s most impactful connector, educator and incubator of young people driving change”.

Find out more.

6. Jump Start 

Jump Start is an award-winning social entrepreneurship and design thinking program, aimed at high school students. Available as a 12-week intensive program, or with a less intensive option, Jump Start arms students with the skills and tools to become changemakers in their communities.

Find out more.

7. YouthX

YouthX touts itself as “Australia’s only startup accelerator for high school entrepreneurs”. Offering access to mentors, workshops, and both online and face to face learning, YouthX has a 12 month program to help high school entrepreneurs turn their business ideas into reality – all while supporting you to juggle the demands of school while you make it happen.

Find out more.

READ MORE: How to Become an Entrepreneur

Gemma Chilton

Author: Gemma Chilton

Gemma is the Managing Editor of Careers with STEM magazine. She has previously worked as Digital Managing Editor at Australian Geographic and a staff writer at Cosmos science magazine.

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