Steve Jobs' first work experience came at the age of 12 when he was offered a part time job on the assembly line of Hewlett-Packard.
Bill Gates began a programming career around the same age for a defense contractor and by the time he was in high school, as we all know, he had started a business from his parents' garage. And another would-be tech magnate, Jack Dorsey, who is widely known as the cofounder of popular social media platform Twitter, began as a programmer at the age of 13; with a growing interest in dispatch routing, he worked for a local taxi cab company in St. Louis.
But not everyone finds their niche by puberty and launches into an uber-successful career by college—otherwise we probably all would have dropped out by the time we made our first million. Instead, the majority of us find our career path through a process of trial and error; a journey that tends to begin after formal education.
Why is work experience as a student important? Surely most of us who have long-since graduated heard stories of our parents taking on some of the most onerous summer jobs: the horrific tales of filth and physical exertion (probably slightly exaggerated) befit narration by Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel. The moral of the story was that if you didn’t want to get stuck performing a job that you really hate then you had better work hard and study harder.
This philosophy seemed to make sense, and by the time you decided to take on a part time job you were reminded of what your parents had told you every time you punched out and left for home reeking of greasy food or industrial waste. In hindsight, I wonder if the typical summer job, and the mindset that motivated us to persevere through it, really paid dividends.
After all, the majority of Canadians still walk away from school with several thousands of dollars in debt. But what is more disconcerting are results of a recent nationwide survey (of over 100,000 Canadians) suggesting that nearly 50% of recent grads “wish they had studied something totally different,” while over 40% responded that they were “not sure whether they made the right career choice" or else are “certain that they did in fact make a mistake in their career decision.”
In light of these statistics, it seems clear that those who look at a summer job experience as an opportunity to move closer toward a profession they believe they would enjoy, as opposed to a polar opposite, could certainly help to eliminate some of the resentment recent grads feel when reflecting upon their career choices.
Fortunately, programs offered by the Canadian government are offering young people the chance make inroads to finding their career of choice before it’s too late. One such program is the opportunity to create their own summer job that will test both work ethic and ingenuity, in addition to access to expert support and ample startup cash.
This small business funding grants for hiring program is called the Summer Company 2013 and it involves giving students between the age of 15 and 29 up to $3,000 in government funding as well as consultative support to start their own summer business. It’s a terrific opportunity and I believe its increasing popularity signals a distinct shift in mindset that we need in order to cultivate world-class innovation in Canada.
And you are an employer, take the time to look at other programs available for your company to receive government funding for hiring of students and recent grads, such as the Canadian business grants for hiring, ICTC Career Focus $12,750 hiring funding for small business, and Graduate Enterprise Internship $15,000 business funding grants for hiring science, tech, engineering, or math grads.