Creating Amazing Opportunities for Austin Students

Jejah Mae Namoco

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The Ceo Program (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities), is a new course that Austin High School is providing next year for Juniors and Seniors. It is a full year course that’s 2 credits and meets daily from 7:05-8:40 at multiple local businesses. For the course, students get to meet with many different mentors specializing in different types of businesses, and even work on a business of their own, earning their own money with their own services and products. This course gives students an opportunity to learn business skills from real businesses and use those skills to put their business ideas into action.

Tyler Gehrking, the Kandiyohi teacher, explained that he started the CEO program because, “I learned there’s an entire world out there that we need to connect you to.” Instead of staying in a classroom, he wanted to take his students outside into the real world of business for an up-close and hands on experience. Thanks to his ingenious idea, his students all learned how to make products, start services, make successful business visits, and gained a lot of connections by meeting up with local businesses. The students even got to learn what they liked, and how their ideas could fit into the world to help people. For example, Cassidy Hanson started in cosmetology, Kylie Halverson plans to start a pop-up vintage clothing store, and Thor Figenskau started a business service that teaches other businesses how to reach the younger generation through social media. There are also other business ideas that got started through the program like a food truck, an art subscription box, and home d├ęcor. They all say that they’ve loved the program, and kylie Halverson even stated that thanks to the program, “we’ve grown as a person.”

The best part of the of the course is near the end, where they can combine all their skills they’ve gained throughout the year and sell their own made products or services at a booth at a trade show. They get to keep all the money they’ve earned, and it is a funded program, so whatever services students might need for their businesses can be paid. The CEO board of directors helping with the program include Allan Williams and Tim Fritz from Hormel Food Productions, and many other businesses.

To apply for the program, the application asks for a personal narrative, and two references, one from a teacher/counselor and another from a family friend or another adult you know. Students must turn in the application by March 15th and they should be notified by March 19th.

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