When Georgina Angele asked me to judge this years Brighton & Hove and Eastbourne & Wealden Young Enterprise competition, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, what was required of me or what value I could bring; but I knew how much I love getting involved in projects that inspire the next generation so I had to say yes.
Young Enterprise is a national scheme which supports young people to set up their own real businesses, taking control of every business function (some teams even had HR directors!), supported throughout by business advisers and culminating in the Awards evening.
Throughout the evening we judge using three main ways; a report which was previously submitted, 1 to 1 interviews and presentations. (N.B. I was asked to get up and present an award and it was terrifying. I have the utmost respect for those young people who casually strolled onto the stage and presented their business ideas).
There were several things which struck me throughout the evening that I thought I would share.
It wasn't just your high achievers there
One thing you normally find with extra curricular activities is that the students who get involved are all high achieving and you would 'expect' them to be involved. What really blew me away with YE is that there was such a range of students involved. Those who clearly saw a challenge and wanted to take it on, those who were with friendship groups they normally wouldn't be with, and those who are clearly so passionate about an idea they wanted to use this platform to put it forward. It was so inclusive and refreshing to see a range of students involved, and really added to the strength of the programme.
They were real businesses!
I genuinely thought we would be judging a 'simulation' of businesses, with cardboard mocks of business ideas and fake figures. I was so wrong. These students worked with suppliers, sold at trade fairs, bought stock, created webpages, social media accounts - some even reached out to celebrities to promote their product online. It actually blew my mind. The creativity and work that went into these business is mind blowing. Our judging window truly does not do it justice for how much work the students do and how amazing they are!
Everyone learnt something who was there that night
One of the reasons I love my job is because 'every day is a school day', and not just because I work with a lot of schools and students. I think we have so much to learn from the next generation. They are genuinely inspiring and have a whole host of amazing ideas which we need to take seriously and a lot of skills which we can learn from. I saw some of the most engaging presentations I have seen in my career from these young people; I saw innovative products which I never thought about but ended up buying (speaker for the shower any body?); and actually, every time I speak to a young person, I develop my own professional skills.
We cannot underestimate how important, rewarding and impactful working with young people is. I think everyone should have the opportunity to work with young people and companies should embrace these opportunities for their staff.
If you’re interested in working with young people and helping to inspire our next generation why not get in touch? Whether it’s one of our own projects through The LoveLocalJobs Foundation or one of the many amazing initiatives outside of our remit, such as the Young Enterprise Finals I participated in, I’d be delighted to help point you in the right direction where I can. I promise you this – whatever you choose I guarantee you’ll find it a hugely rewarding experience.