Partnered with CLAP-TECH Pathway, a Jockey Club Multiple Pathways Initiative that prepares local youth for new-collar jobs, the MIT Node held two virtual entrepreneurship bootcamps for almost a hundred senior form students in December 2020.
Throughout the 3-day entrepreneurial journey, students were taught to identify problems and opportunities, build empathy with the identified users, and make data-informed decisions. Ultimately, students had to work closely in teams to develop a tech-enabled solution for the problem they had discovered through primary market research. It was not an easy task to come up with creative ideas and a coherent pitch in such a short period of time. Instead of giving up, many students stepped up to the challenge and took on a leadership role to manage the process and held their teams accountable for the final product.
Students looked into problems that are very relevant to them under the impact of COVID-19. One team reflected on their own online learning experience and realized students are often too embarrassed to ask questions during class. Their “Ask channel” app allows students to submit questions discretely, the app will integrate similar questions for the teachers so that the answers can be shared with the whole class. Another remarkable project looked into creating a clean bot to sanitize kids’ toys under the pandemic to ease the worries of parents.
While technological skills are paramount in a digital economy, equipping oneself with the essential human skills will enhance one’s ability to adapt and thrive in the future workplace. When we asked students to reflect on their learning experience, communication, collaboration, self-management, presentation and responsibility were the top 5 aspects that they felt more confident in. It was encouraging to see students growing in such areas after the bootcamp and these attributes were identified as highly-valued by employers by CLAP-TECH Pathway as well.
As educators, we understand that entrepreneurship might not be the pathway for everyone, but the human skills that our students can develop through an entrepreneurial experience will certainly empower them to become future-ready.