Summer could look different for many students this year, particularly for those young people looking for a summer job. With fewer seasonal and retail jobs likely to be available due to the pandemic, young people are having to think outside the box when it comes to employment - including being their own boss.
Summer Company, a program that helps young people between the ages of 15 and 29 years start and run their own summer business, is currently accepting applications from enterprising youth in Waterloo Region. Rob Clement is the local coordinator of Summer Program at the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre and says the program is back this year, with a few changes. "Essentially this year many aspects of the program will be run remotely," he explains. "Interviews will be conducted over Zoom or Skype, mentoring sessions and training will all be on-line. And, somewhere in their business plan, students will have to indicate how they will run their business with the intent to make a profit, while also managing social distancing which is expected to continue over the summer."
Initially, the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre wasn't sure whether Summer Program would be running this year or not. As a program of the government of Ontario, they had to wait for direction from the province to make sure the program could still be offered, and what changes would be required in light of the pandemic. Clement says, despite COVID-19, much of the program remains the same. "The application is identical," he says, "Students still have to write up a small business plan and submit it. There will still be a short interview, and for participants admitted into the program, there will be webinars and on-line training in a small group format. There will also be Zoom conference calls with their mentors every two weeks. We'll try to keep it as close to the actual program as we can, taking into account all of the additional circumstances."
In some ways, Clement feels this year's program could provide students with an even better experience. "They're going to be exposed to hurdles that, prior to this year, were not a common occurrence," he explains. "At the Small Business Centre, we've spent a lot of time offering workshops and other forms of training to current business owners in an effort to help them pivot their businesses to weather these circumstances and thrive. The lessons we've learned from doing that with full-time businesses is certainly something we're looking at sharing with the students over the summer as well."
Deadline for applications for Summer Program is May 17th, 2020. And, if there are students who don't feel they're ready to apply this year, Clement says the program will return next summer. "If students are thinking 'I'd like to try to be a business owner, but this year looks really tricky, or if they're worried about their studies, they should keep the program in mind for the future," he says. Anyone wanting to learn more, or with questions regarding Summer Program can contact the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre through its website.
Deadline for Applications: May 17th, 2020