I recently had the privilege of speaking to middle school students on Career Day about entrepreneurship.  I was pleasantly surprised by my experience and I left the presentation with a positive feeling about future generations. Amazingly, when the principal ask the school how many knew what they wanted to become, over half raised their hand.  I was blown away by the level of self-awareness these kids possessed.

It may sound far-fetched that 11 to 14 year olds know what they want to do ten years from now, but many do.  Now, I realize most will change their minds, after all they are kids, and as adults many of us are still changing our minds. But, to have the confidence in your plans to say "Yes, I do know what I want to do." when you're that young is huge.
Why The Next Generation of Entrepreneurs Will Blow You Away

There were over 100 volunteers representing many careers and the students were able to choose three presentations to visit.  I was a little frightened that no one would want to hear about  entrepreneurship, but I had three full classes. I anticipated yawns, day dreaming and ridiculous questions, but that is not at all what I received. Students asked questions about patents, taking a business public, what it is like to fail, how to sell a business, how to bring an invention to market and more.  These were the kinds of questions that I would have expected of high school seniors not middle school students.

Shark Tank has been a huge help for shedding light on entrepreneurship.  It really made explaining inventions, business start-up and marketing much easier. Several students already had business ideas in mind and a few came up and talked with me after the presentation.

While the physical awkwardness we all experience in middle school still exists, the intellect and eye on the future is way beyond any middle school student I knew in the 80's.

Maybe this maturity is being shaped by school districts who have eighth graders select a education 'track' much like that of a college degree.  In eighth grade students select their classes for the next four years, including a practicum, if applicable.  I was so excited by the middle schoolers that I'm thinking of having a few high school students who are completing their practicum in marketing, come and work at Marketing Eye as interns.

I've worked directly with school districts for the past seven years and I know that these opportunities are not available in every district.  I even volunteered with Junior Achievement at inner-city high schools and my focus was encouraging students to finish high school. 

I too attended an inner-city high school, but where the economic backgrounds were expansive, many students were faced with the same challenges we see today: drugs, gangs and violence.  However, the difference was that the availability of education opportunities were not as lopsided as they are today.  

One of my best friends from high school was smart, articulate and poor.  She received a sizable scholarship from the local university.  Today she works at that university doing outreach to students who may not have considered college or who may not know how to get into college. We really need more like her in our high schools and universities.

So, enough on my education soap box.  I hope you enjoy the thank you letter I'm sharing in my post.  I'm not sure what makes me smile more, the fact that the student thought bossy is a positive quality of an entrepreneur or that it is a career that is fun and easy. I guess I may need to modify my speech for next year.
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