3 Great Opportunities to Network and Learn More About Business

Business is a subject that sparks an interest in many young people, especially high school students looking for careers to pursue in post-secondary. But the term, business, can be confusing because many people do not know about the several fields it involves. 

If you’re wondering how you can learn about these fields? Or how to know which one is the best fit for you? Make sure to pay close attention to the following resources. 

In Canada, a number of companies offer programs for high school students to get involved in their communities, network with professionals and use their creativity to create new products and services. Here are 3 of the biggest organization programs available for you:

#1. CPA Ontario’s HAP (High School Ambassador Program)

This free program offered by the Chartered Professional Accountants organization allows students with an interest in accounting to learn about the CPA designation and participate in their famous No Limits conference. Students from different areas in the country can network with CPAs and partake in their InstaChallenge, CPA Showcase or their Write to Ignite essay competition to win money prizes.

#2. DECA Program

DECA competitions are designed by this non-for-profit organization to prepare future leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. They help students implement class content by finding solutions to real life business cases that companies face on a daily basis. Their competitions also come in different levels, regionals, provincials, nationals and the ICDC (International Career Development Conference). 

Their programs are specifically designed for 2 different groups: high school students and post-secondary students. Note that their competitions are not free, but there are many opportunities for you to learn new content, skills, win scholarships, network with professionals and meet individuals from the US, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and Germany. 

#3. Junior Achievement Canada 

This global non-for-profit organization offers free programs which focus on teaching both elementary and high school students about business. Some of their services include webinar series and online courses about personal finance, the trades and how to start your own business. 

On the other hand, they also offer hands-on learning programs. These include online competitions exclusively made for high school students all over Canada with a potential to win scholarships. For example: the Investment Strategies Program or the JA Titan Challenge. Last but not least, valuable skills can be gained by joining the JA Company Program: an 18 week after school entrepreneurship program where students join groups to start and run their own business with guidance from professionals. 

These are only 3 of the many programs you can be a part of. For more information make sure to visit their websites and find out if your school has a DECA club or partnerships with these organizations. Talk to your teachers, get engaged, and if your school doesn’t have any, introduce them yourself. Remember that by taking this first step you not only gain skills and knowledge yourself but you can also help other students experience such opportunities as well. 

5 Things to You Can Do Right Now to Prepare for the World of Business

If you’re a student dreaming about that white-collar business career but have no idea how to get there, you’ve come to the right place. A few years ago. I was in that exact same position, with worries about the future lingering 24/7 on my mind. But with time, I’ve collected a plethora of ways to immerse myself in business, some of which I’m sharing with you today. I hope that these tips will give you the push you’re looking for to start your journey into the corporate world.

1. Gather as much knowledge as possible

Business is a multifaceted field. So unless you’re some sort of crazy Renaissance kid, you cannot possibly learn everything about it overnight. Instead, remember that learning is about consistency. By learning something new every day, the result is like a flywheel — it takes time to get it going, but once it does, it’s unstoppable. In other words, the more you can learn about business (or any other subject) consistently, the more it gathers momentum.

Just as a heads up, there’s a caveat to keep in mind before you dive in, which is that gathering knowledge is only half of the story. There are thousands of hours of content that you could possibly absorb, so try not to jump down the rabbit hole. Rather, keep in mind that the end goal is turning your knowledge into projects in the real world.

That being said, here’re some quick links to get you started on your business journey:

For more links, check out the Resources section of our blog 😉

2. Reach out to prominent businesspeople

One problem might appear during your info-search, which is that the business advice you find isn’t tailored to your circumstances, and therefore is not as helpful to you. That’s why it’s important to engage with people who’re actually in the business world, not only to learn from a personalized perspective, but also to practice your networking skills.

Most of the time, the people you see in podcasts and videos have their emails or LinkedIn accessible, so just do some googling and reach out! Tell them a bit about your status as a student, what you love about their work, what you want to know, and close it with genuine gratitude. Not all of them will respond, but those who do would be happy to help you. After all, many businesspeople were in your position years ago, curious about the industry and reached out to professionals. Most of them would be delighted to repay the favour.

Yes, networking is absolutely terrifying. But if you never ask, the answer is always no. Turn that 100% rejection rate into 50% by simply asking. You’ll never lose out, so don’t let the opportunity fly by.

3. Learn how to make things look pretty (+ coding for bonus points)

If you want to become an entrepreneur, you need to know how to make a website grab attention, how to make apps easy to navigate, or how to make a slideshow to look appealing to investors. If you’ve got even more time to kill, learn coding, especially in regard to web development. No, you don’t have to become a computer whiz if you don’t want to — just learn enough to be able to market your business without bringing someone else in.

Here’re the best resources to guide you through the fascinating world of design. Don’t get overwhelmed by the hundreds of options within these websites — just pick something and get started.

4. Practice your public speaking

Public speaking is a complex skill that I may go into more detail about in another post. But its importance is self-explanatory so I’ll keep this short. Two main things you could do to improve your public speaking:

  1. Join a speech-related club or class (eg. Toastmasters, debate class)
  2. If the above isn’t your cup of tea, google “public speaking games” and practice a couple every day. It takes 5 minutes of your time, but makes a huge difference in the long run.

5. Join business competitions and programs

Like mentioned earlier, simply soaking up information like a sponge isn’t enough — you need to do something with your knowledge. Some perfect ways to get started are business events for students that’re low-cost and accessible:

  • DECA (obviously): Compete in business events pertaining to entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, and business administration. (https://deca.ca/)
  • FBLA: Similar to DECA, growing quickly in Canada. (https://www.fbla.ca/events)
  • Betacamp: Build a startup in 12 weeks (https://www.beta.camp/about-the-program)
  • EMGirls: Organization that hosts many entrepreneurship events and competitions annually. (https://www.emgirls.org/)
  • + Many others! Just do some digging around social media and you’ll find the competitions that you like best.

Even if you don’t win anything, you gain knowledge, writing, and speaking skills along the way. No one can take that away from you.

And that’s it!

Some simple, affordable, and efficient ways to set yourself up for a business career. If this all sounds like too much, that’s perfectly fine. Trust me, even I sometimes don’t follow my own advice, even when I should. Just remember that this is neither an exhaustive nor a definitive list of everything you should be doing. Ultimately, it’s up to you to pick and choose the activities that best suit your goals, that’ll best prepare you for the business world.