Recently I volunteered to talk to Year 9 (age 14) students for a Career Fair. I had advised the lady who was organizing this event about my past of being a Legal Assistant – Legal Executive – Solicitor – Businesswoman/Entrepreneur. She listed me on the programme as an “Entrepreneur” (I didn’t know this immediately).
I was asked to talk for 3 times for 20 minutes to students and parents in a large classroom. At the first session it was a full room and I nervously explained my career path, with the students and their parents watching either in rapt attention or disapprovingly. One father was not amused with my sage advice to always carry a notebook and pen in your hand when you go to see anyone in a corporate office.
If you have not heard this advice from me in real life, here it is:
When you go to see anyone whether the CEO, your boss, the marketing administrator or the receptionist take your notebook and write down what they say. You will NOT remember what they say after you leave them. Trust me. This advice applies especially to those 21 year old MBA graduates who have not bothered to think about what they want to ask and bother the in-house legal department and then demand immediate attention and response to a non question.
I noticed after the first session that my classroom had been full, whereas other rooms were half empty or even empty. The second session started with a full audience and more people outside. It was weird. I’ve never had a queue of people waiting to see me, a trickle after I give speeches but never a queue!
I asked some students before I started the second session: “what are you planning to do in the future after school”.
“We want to be Entrepreneurs”, they replied
“Entrepreneurs in what? Have you created a product? An app?”
“Do you want to go to university?”
“Do we have to if we are going to be Entrepreneurs?”
I looked at the door of the classroom, it had my name and “Entrepreneur” next to it.No mention of being a lawyer.
*ching ching ching*.
They wanted to find out how to be an “Entrepreneur” from me. No wonder the attendees of the first session were slightly disappointed by my speech!
They have this believe that they can have the title and the money will come rolling in!!
The amount of times I go to networking events and people say they are Entrepreneurs but their business sounds like fluff. It’s just a cool term to use around town right now. I tend to call myself a businesswoman to try and show I am serious about my business.
These students didn’t want to be serious; they wanted to be cool.
How do you explain to them that it is not that easy to be an Entrepreneur in 20 minutes?
I had to tell them. I couldn’t lie. So I gave them my sage advice:
a. go discover yourself and enjoy university,
b. study something useful but broad enough like law,
c. work for a while to see how to businesses run. It doesn’t matter if they are successful or not (2 out of the 5 companies I worked for no longer exist (it wasn’t me!)), it’s the experience that will help you with running your own business, and
d. start a business, say at 35.
Yes, that’s what I did and of course other entrepreneurs have different stories. Some started much earlier, but I was a chicken for 13 years, and hey I was pioneering enough to go in-house when 95% of law students became Solicitors in law firms (tied to only one type of law and with multiple clients – not my cup of tea) or Barristers (I did a mini-pupillage and can confirm it was boring. The John Grisham novels I read were more exciting, until a Judge told me off for reading them in his court).
The students may not have liked what I had to say, but many of the parents did (you are no longer young and cool when parents agree with you). However, some parents wanted their children to be entrepreneurs and wanted private sessions with me to find out how to become one! I tried to be helpful, but if you have no idea, no product, nothing and just want the title, you will never be an Entrepreneur/business person.
If you want to be an Entrepreneur and need guidance, come to me with an idea, come with a plan (a mind map is even better, like the one above) and I can give you some advice. But if you just want the title, print the first picture above and wear that as a badge.
© 2016 Shelina Jokhiya | All rights reserved – This post is provided for the convenience of Shelo’s Cheeky Rantings readers. Any reproduction of the content within this feed is strictly prohibited.
© image 1 – iQoncept, image 2 – Sergey Nivens