Category: Success Stories
High school students in the I-72 Corridor have a unique opportunity to expand their education beyond the classroom through participation in the Morgan-Scott, Pike or Greene-Calhoun CEO Programs. This innovative program is designed to teach students business skills in a business environment. Whereas typical classes focus on theoretical learning, the CEO Program gives students the opportunity to implement what they are learning and to test out their ideas in a dynamic business environment.
The CEO Program helps to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders to step outside of their comfort zones, plan for success, take calculated risks and respond to market conditions. Rather than waiting to teach these skills after someone has graduated from college and worked in their profession, the program is targeting youth who have a passion for business, an entrepreneurial drive and want to gain business skills before heading off to college. The result? A built-in pipeline of local entrepreneurs who are ready to invest in the community through their talents, ambitions and goals.
Learning through Mentorship
A student’s training begins in a classroom setting but extends into the business community as students are paired with mentors. The mentorship and internship opportunities available to students is a key component of the program and critical to its success. Mentors provide students with guidance, feedback, direction, resources and opportunities. Since each mentor comes with their own unique history and experiences, students benefit from hearing diverse perspectives and opinions. Essentially, the mentorship portion of the program is akin to an entrepreneurial apprenticeship where students can gain knowledge from an experienced and seasoned business leader.
Talking Calculated Risks
One of the challenges entrepreneurs often have boils down to risk taking. When each decision can impact the company’s bottom line profitability and an entrepreneur’s own bank account, it can be difficult to take the risks necessary to grow. The CEO Program makes it possible for students to test out their ideas by taking calculated risks in a safe environment. Mentors then help students to respond appropriately and learn how to manage both the risks and results. This is an invaluable experience that can help to make students wiser business owners in the future.
Learn in Real-Time
Best of all, students have the opportunity to learn from their ideas – whether they succeed or fail. The CEO Program is designed to promote maximum hands-on learning, so students are encouraged to try new things and then to evaluate the results. With the help of a facilitator and business mentors, students can adjust course and make changes to their ideas as necessary. Ultimately, this creates the type of business environment that entrepreneurs are faced with every day. The difference being that there is a team in place to support these students so that everything that happens becomes a learning opportunity.
We Invite Others to Support the CEO Program
The Illinois Electric Cooperative is a founding investor of the Morgan-Scott, Pike and Greene-Calhoun CEO programs because the organization believes in supporting community-led initiatives and economic development. Investing in young entrepreneurs is an excellent way to do so. We encourage others to invest their time and resources in the CEO Program and the student entrepreneurs that could shape the future of our region.