“The experience has 100% completely changed my plans for the future. I’ve learnt so many skills I now want to have my own business, have people work for me. I’d never thought of that before, not even a little bit. I feel like my future looks brighter now, there are a lot more doors open now, which means I can put myself in a good position and help out my family.”
“I was eager to do something with myself but never had the motivation to get round to doing anything. Before Young Enterprise I would never take the initiative, my attitude was if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. It was a build-up of things in my life that contributed to a lack of motivation.”
Jack has had to overcome more obstacles than most 16 year olds. Before starting Young Enterprise, a number of personal factors meant Jack rarely had the motivation to see things through or communicate with others. He got involved with Young Enterprise whilst living at Mary Seacole, a Housing Association in Luton where he started a Young Enterprise Company called Seacole’s Awareness.
The concept behind Seacole’s Awareness was designing and selling t-shirts to raise awareness of hate crimes and combat racism, issues which meant a lot to Jack personally. “I got bullied a little when I was younger because of my race. It was nice to do the opposite, raise awareness and help this not happen to other people.” The concept provided popular and the t-shirts sold fast across trade fairs in Luton.
Throughout the year, many of Jacks team members came and went, usually when they joined or left the housing association or gained employment. Jack recalls this was very challenging for him as Managing Director. “It was hard to move forward because we were consistently having to explain the same stuff to different people.” However, Jack says this forced him to develop his communication skills, turning it into an opportunity to talk to new people about the company and product.
Overcoming and learning from challenges is a key element of the Company Programme and Jack and his team certainly faced their fair share. The day before the team were due to compete against local teams, a computer error deleted key documents, presentations and t-shirt designs.
“Normally I’d have got mad and just stopped doing it” Jack said. But then he thought: “I’ve never seen something through to the end; I just want to see this through.” Jack ended up creating everything again from scratch. He says: “I’ve never spent so much time looking at a computer screen, trust me, if I wasn’t in need of glasses before that day…I would be after!”
Jack credits Nicole and Maya, his Engagement and Safeguarding Officer and Training Manager at Mary Seacole for the change in his attitude and desire to start seeing things through.
Jack’s team didn’t make it through to the Young Enterprise final but the people around him, impressed by his transformation, nominated him for the Journey Award, which is awarded to the student who has made the most transformational journey throughout the year. Jack made it to the final where he was interviewed by BBC’s Steph McGovern in front of over 300 people. “Coming down to London was a bit surreal; it felt like it wasn’t real. I wore like shoes, not trainers, and a shirt and trousers. I didn’t even do that in high school, it was crazy!” Jack said. After the interview Jack was announced as the winner of the award, “After I won that award I was just smiling for ages, I was happy for ages, it was the first thing I’d ever won.”
“The experience has 100% completely changed my plans for the future.” Jack said. “I’ve learnt so many skills I now want to have my own business, have people work for me. I’d never thought of that before, not even a little bit. I feel like my future looks brighter now, there are a lot more doors open now, which means I can put myself in a good position and help out my family.”