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    What to Look for In a Pre-College Entrepreneurship Summer Program

    Posted January 24, 2024, 10:00 am by Beth Goldstein
    University student woman giving lecture to students at the university

    As you know all too well, having experienced a global pandemic as a young teen, we live in a world that is constantly changing—and change can be hard. To be successful in school, life, and your future career, you need the skills and confidence to adapt to change. This is part of what we call having an “entrepreneurial mindset.” You need these skills to become a successful leader, no matter what type of leadership role you are drawn to in business, politics, environment, social issues, and more. 

    Find a Program That Goes Beyond Business

    All entrepreneurship programs will teach you business principles, and most will support you in developing a business idea. Some may even give you the opportunity to earn college credit. 

    Yet many fail to help you develop traits like “adaptability” and “agency” (confidence to take action). While many programs may not immediately associate these traits with entrepreneurs, at Babson College, ranked number one for entrepreneurship for 30 years, we challenge the conventional belief that entrepreneurial skills are only about business acumen. Look for a program that gives you more.

    At Babson College’s Youth Impact Lab, we have found that entrepreneurial skills include crucial social-emotional abilities that help you build the confidence, agency, and resilience essential for tackling complex challenges. We cultivate future leaders with critical thinking skills who can navigate uncertainty, manage and learn from failure, and maintain grit throughout their journey—no matter how hard it might be. 

    Research Supports the Value of a Holistic Entrepreneurial Leadership Program

    Research conducted by Unicef (2021) underscores why you should explore high school programs that help you develop these social-emotional skills. They may have a positive impact on your academic achievement, resilience, and future success, while also contributing to improvements in mental health. As a future leader and entrepreneurial thinker, you must learn to approach challenges holistically.

    Forbes Magazine recently recognized Babson's High School Summer Study Program as one of the top ten innovative business summer programs. We do exactly that: support you in acquiring both the business and social-emotional skills needed for long-term success and wellness.

    Outcomes to Look for in Summer Entrepreneurship Programs for High School Students

    Look for outcomes that place business skills alongside social-emotional skills. Babson’s Youth Impact Lab High School Summer Study Program provides experiential entrepreneurial opportunities that help you see the world and your skillset from a new perspective. Through collaborative teamwork with peers worldwide, our 3+ week, credit-bearing course is designed to nurture your social-emotional skills, helping you develop an entrepreneurial mindset that enhances your leadership, teamwork, and changemaking abilities.

    Example of Meaningful Outcomes

    Participants in our Summer Study program describe greater confidence in their ability to: 

    • Figure out a way to help solve problems that society faces 
    • Work productively under continuous stress, pressure, and conflict 
    • Get others to believe in their idea 
    • Persist in the face of obstacles and challenges and
    • Inspire, encourage, and motivate their team

    While these achievements may not all conventionally align with entrepreneurial norms, they represent the essential skills demanded by the world.

    Look for a Program That Teaches You How to Fall in Love…with Problems

    The best programs teach students to fall madly in love with the problems that they want to solve, not necessarily the first solution that comes to mind. If you love the problem, you will explore it deeply and understand it as completely as possible. This will help you determine the best solution or set of solutions to address the problem. 

    Babson accomplishes this by giving you an entrepreneurial lens to explore social, economic, and environmental problems framed by the U.N. Global Goals. You then develop an entrepreneurial solution to a problem your community faces. This gives you exposure to key concepts in entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing, finance, business communication, and other disciplines that support venture creation—and shows you how to find opportunities where others find obstacles.

    This entrepreneurial problem-solving approach empowers you to persevere through the myriad challenges associated with bringing solutions to market—and with living a successful life.

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    Beth Goldstein

    Beth Goldstein

    Dr. Beth Goldstein holds an EdD from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from the Boston University Questrom School of Business. She has more than 30 years' of experience empowering educators, students, entrepreneurs, and executives.