NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Instead of hitting the beach, 50 students from Norfolk Collegiate are starting off their summer vacations by attending 3 Day Startup, an entrepreneurship education program based out of Austin, Texas.
Over the next three days, students will work in small groups to develop an idea for a start-up, interview potential customers, receive mentoring from local entrepreneurs, and finally pitch their ideas to a panel of business owners. The program primarily takes place at Old Dominion University’s Strome Entrepreneurial Center.
Educators say the focus on hands-on learning makes this program a unique experience for students.
“We learned that there are a lot of universities that oftentimes teach this through books and lectures, but students felt like they weren’t really learning the essentials of how to launch a company, and that’s what 3 Day Startup is all about,” said Maia Donohue, Senior Program Manager of 3 Day Startup.
Although the program is usually taught at universities, Donohue says that the program presents unique challenges for middle and high schoolers.
“Younger groups don’t know what they don’t know yet, so that’s always really exciting” said Donohue. “They think they can take everything and just do everything.”
Ashley King, Director of Experiential Education and Community Engagement at Norfolk Collegiate, believes that this program will help students hone important skills that can be difficult to teach in a traditional classroom setting.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity for our students to get a taste of a growing field, and a field that they may hear a lot about in the world and pop culture that we don’t necessarily offer a course in right now,” said King. “It’s really just a chance for our kids to learn about entrepreneurship in a hands-on, immersive way.”
No matter what career path the students end up taking, King says they will develop skills that they can use far beyond the three-day workshop.
“All these skills, the skills that it takes to be an entrepreneur: collaborative, critical thinking, creative, flexible. These are all skills that we want our kids to have anyways. So it’s kind of a unique way to teach them in a way that’s really engaging,” King said.
The program ends Friday afternoon, after students pitch their ideas to local business owners.