Entrepreneurship: An essential skill for young grads

By Aislinn Malszecki, Digital Media Specialist, MindShare Learning

Albert Einstein once said “I never worry about the future. It comes soon enough.”

In times when the future is uncertain or even ambiguous, many young Canadians are embracing Einstein’s attitude by preparing themselves for careers in flux. Their difficulty is clear: the next generation of young workers are graduating from schools that have structures and processes still designed to accommodate the obsolete industrial age. Don`t get me wrong, students do learn valuable information and a body of knowledge but the skills that were reinforced in traditional classrooms have limited value in helping find balance in creating their own career paths rather than simply finding a job. In the industrial era, efficiency and function was the principal trait for workers but adaptability was almost non-existent: one had a single set of job-skills and that defined what work one did–for life.

Changing direction in our entire social system is rough, especially for some graduating students who are in drowning in debt. My peers today started out in classrooms arranged in rows of seats then entered traditional four-year BAs with tenured professors. We have been trained to expect an orderly and linear life. The problem is where we expect to settle into safety and stability, instead of a mapped-out path or hierarchical ladder, many of us find that has been disrupted now.

In this interconnected world, ambiguity is rising all around us–that’s something that’s missing from lessons taught in most classrooms. The idea of taking risks, facing the ambiguous future head-on, that’s scary to most young graduates. There’s certainly a fear of learning new things or adapting to new work situations and a world uncharted. But many of us recognize we are able to prepare ourselves creatively by focusing on dynamic agility and flexible skills. We try to maximize options by staying flexible.

Still others are fully embracing these moments of immense opportunity by branching out on their own and using their calculating imaginations to build businesses in a plethora of emerging industries. Entrepreneurship is a skill and it helps people become more open-minded to possibilities, doing what has never been done. Fresh thinking here helps prepare young graduates for whatever their future may bring by making the future, not waiting for it or looking for their place in it. It’s not the only skill youth should have in their toolkit, it should be an ongoing acquisition of capacities, experiences, relationships and self-growth. But it is an optimal mindset because that cuts through the fear of changing in a time when everything changes.

Notably, a superabundance of programs and people are popping up all over Canada and globally to support, mentor, nurture and identify promising young entrepreneurs. One of the most prominent instances, “The Next 36,” an initiative created by Reza Satchu. Mr. Satchu taught a hugely popular course “Economics of Entrepreneurship” at University of Toronto, the course framework is the foundation for The Next 36. Satchu set out a goal to help launch the careers of 36 innovative and creative undergraduates every year from across Canada, and turn them into top entrepreneurs in a world where borders are evaporating but creativity rules.

New graduates should look to leaders such as Vancouver-born Eric Migicovsky, a recent University of Waterloo grad who raised $8M in just under a month on the crowd-sourced funding site Kickstarter for a digital watch that runs apps connected to your smartphone, named the Pebble. Migicosky is one of many young Canadian entrepreneurs pushing the boundaries and cutting through traditional paths of getting an idea started, in his case getting investment. Migicovsky and his team made a calculated risk which turned out to be a huge success in an extremely short period of time. He leveraged social media to tap global fans that helped him accelerate sales at an incredible rate (over $100K in the first 2 hours)–a truly global entrepreneur.

Yes, Eric Migivovsky`s story is exceptional but it`s a great example of how Canadian youth are carving their own future by arming themselves with the right amount of skills to face the ambiguity. Entrepreneurship is the umbrella of a plethora of skills including agility, flexibility, and leadership for the young graduate heading towards a career in flux, these skills will help you build a career path that’s both thrilling and fulfilling.