My column this morning in the TJ discussed an idea that I have been kicking around in recent months. We know that a lot of really bright young New Brunswickers leave the province because they “can’t find a good job here”. Maybe we should be doing more to encourage them to think about entrepreneurship – to create their own job – their own career path here in the province.
An astute colleague sent me an email reminding me that I have complained in the past about both efforts to try and retain young people (cajole, guilt, etc.) and to try and get unemployed people to start their own business.
It is true that I am skeptical of government efforts to encourage unemployment people to start their own businesses. It takes a certain type of person to want to take on the risk of owning their own business – and particularly in sectors of the economy where success is reliant on developing external markets (think about IT startups as a good example).
But I have met enough of these high potential New Brunswickers – the keeners who want to change the world – and I have a hunch that many of them would make good entrepreneurs but they never really have given it any real thought. They went to the right schools, got into the right networks, got the best grades and now feel they should naturally be recruited into highly rewarding jobs in the private, NGO or government sectors. And, unfortunately, there are not a lot of those jobs laying around available in New Brunswick.
So, they leave.
I think some of them should consider entrepreneurship. Business minded young people could partner up with a tech person on an IT startup. Socially minded folks could enrol in the Pond-Deshpande social enterprise incubator and start social enterprises. Start with the Guia Project and take it national, as one example.
The point is really ambitious people should have multiple pathways to rewarding careers and that doesn’t necessarily start with an internship at IBM or Google. Cobble together an exciting IT startup and you’ll get the interest of the tech sector the old fashioned way.
It’s worthy of discussion. I know several crackerjack young people that have cobbled together interesting jobs from multiple firms and organizations – not one offering a full time job – and are building strong networks and gaining a good reputation.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how bright or ambitious you are. You have to get out there and add real value – show your skills can translate into value – in the profit-seeking or NGO sectors.
There are many ways to get that done.