One of the perks of our job is coming into contact with so many young people every day that are doing things in our community. For me, it means very often that my contact with them doesn’t stop in the classroom but extends on to real life. Last week in Michael’s while picking up last minute necessities for Halloween, I was greeted at the checkout with, “aren’t you the portfolio lady that talked to us?” Portfolio Lady is a title I wear proudly and it’s all the better when I hear it out in the retail world because it means I’ve hopefully helped these youth land the jobs I’m encountering them at.
I’d like to highlight a few of the extraordinary entrepreneurs we run into amongst our students. The “side hustle” is very much a thing these days and there are a few different ways to think about it. On the one hand, wouldn’t it be ideal if everyone got paid enough to survive and didn’t have to have multiple jobs or side gigs? Yes. But, this generation is also one that seems to thrive on a lot of different types of interactions so by branching out with many feet in different doors, it can lead to better career explorations and a knowledge of how to use any and all of their resources to make money if they should be required to do so.
Brenden, Noland, and Brielle are three such students from recent classes. Brenden and Noland can both be seen and heard on their own YouTube channels as well as selling gaming merchandise and stickers online. I’ve been invited to check out their stations and I’ve seen firsthand the effort that is going into the content creation. They’re giving movie reviews (much like the heroes I grew up with, Siskel and Ebert,) and, they’re actually marketing some of the graphics they put together online and selling them! Brielle, on the other hand, is doing something I can identify with a bit easier, though I’m still in awe. She always liked to bake, so during the pandemic she began revving up her cupcake savvy and selling online. She is currently going through the process to become home-baker certified!
These are young people not even eighteen years-old yet and they’ve figured out income streams that may mean they could one day be self-sufficient and not ever have to go through the rite-of-passage of asking if someone “wants fries with that!” These self-start businesses are by no means easy, and they’re by no means bulletproof. Hopefully, the Portfolio Lady can help these youth on their way to self-actualization and a solid career choice, no matter what path it takes to get there. In our classes, we strive to applaud every direction a young person goes, so long as it’s a positive, forward moving one.