There are many ways to develop an entrepreneurship, economics or business-related hook. Here are a few of our top suggestions for you to follow, but we recommend that you think outside the box as you develop a passion project and pursue opportunities unique to you and your interests!
Business, economics and entrepreneurship are popular fields of interest among high school students, so it is especially important to differentiate yourself to ensure that you will be a particularly strong applicant to college when the time comes. You can use the broad nature of the business field to your advantage, and explore your interests in conjunction with another discipline or interest to develop a unique applicant profile. Further, many of the skills you can develop or knowledge you can gain in other fields can be applied to business or entrepreneurial endeavors, so pairing your interest in business with other disciplines will be beneficial in many ways. Here are a few first steps you can take as you work to develop your hook!
Join Clubs at School
If you’re interested in business or economics, you should join a related club at your high school or online. Even though clubs related to entrepreneurship, economics and business are not offered by all high schools, check out the list of clubs your high school does offer and join one or two, even if they are only tangentially related to your primary interests. Any of the following clubs will help you to develop leadership, public speaking, and professional skills:
“Our mission at Business Professionals of America is to develop and empower student leaders to discover their passion and change the world by creating unmatched opportunities in learning, professional growth and service.” You can either join your school’s chapter of BPA or you can join an online chapter of the organization.
“DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.” This club aims to help empower and encourage future entrepreneurs as they prepare for their future careers and college studies.
“FBLA helps high school students prepare for careers in business through academic competitions, leadership development, and educational programs.” The organization holds state, regional and national conferences.
Many high schools commonly offer the following clubs, but their particular objectives and activities will vary by school.
If your high school does not offer a club related to business or entrepreneurship, you can easily join one of the clubs that offer virtual chapters, or you can think about creating a club at your own school. If you’re interested in founding a club, you can read our guide for doing so here.
Many of the students applying to college will list ten clubs or other commitments on their activities lists. An internship is a unique, often unpaid opportunity that will stand out on your application, as it is far less common for high school students to intern. The successful completion of an internship will demonstrate that you know how to operate in a professional environment and are informed about the field. The following programs are great options for high school students:
This 8-week program connects students with nonprofits and corporations and offers them opportunities for employment and service. Students work full time for seven weeks and attend leadership training in Washington DC for one week.
Ladders for Leaders is a New York-based program that offers exceptional high school and college students with prior work experience and who reside in one of the five boroughs the opportunity to intern for leading corporations, non-profit organizations and government agencies over the summer.
Forage connects students with companies and organizes short 5-6 hour virtual work experiences to help the next generation of talent explore career paths and gain an advantage with Fortune 500 companies.
The benefits you will reap from interning are long-lasting, as the skills you develop will serve you throughout college and beyond. The process of applying for an internship is similar to that of applying for a job. You will need a cover letter explaining your past experience and why you’re qualified for and interested in the internship, as well as a resume.
You can search for an internship through your existing connections, or you can apply to job postings online. You don’t have to rely on Google to find an internship that fits you. Linkedin, Idealist, and Angelist are useful sites where you can search for additional internship opportunities.
You can either apply to an existing job posting, or if the company is not currently seeking an intern, you can take the initiative and reach out to a hiring manager and inquire about the possibility of interning. This can be accomplished by doing a bit of digging about the company on Google or LinkedIn to find the hiring manager’s name and contact information. Not all companies’ hiring managers will have their contact information readily available. Next, you need to draft a cover letter or short outreach email selling yourself to the hiring manager. The cover letter is usually written as an email to the hiring manager, and it should be short and sweet. This email should include:
An example of a cold email for an internship within the business industry should look like:
Subject: Unpaid Summer Intern
Dear Mr/Ms/Mrs. X,
My name is Gina Collins, and I’m currently a junior at San Francisco High School intending to study business and marketing in college.
This past semester, I took an advanced digital marketing course online, and became the head of my school’s Business Club. There, I have developed marketing skills, advertising events we are hosting in collaboration with our National Honor Society and developing decks for our annual DECA competition.
I am looking for a summer internship opportunity and am wondering if you are in need of a summer intern? I would be thrilled to bring my skills to your marketing or media teams!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this email! If a summer internship would be a possibility, I am available by phone at 555-555-5555, anytime on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after 3 p.m. or by email at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you again,
Start a Blog or Podcast
While joining clubs and interning in your field of interest is a fantastic way to demonstrate interest through pre-existing avenues, creating a passion project will set you apart from other candidates, and allow you to develop skills on your own terms.
Starting a blog or podcast is a fantastic way to explore your interests in this industry. A blog provides great writing experience, and a podcast helps you comment and add to the discourse in your field. Both are distinctive ways to demonstrate and share your knowledge with others who may be less informed.
If you don’t know where to start, or you need some inspiration as your brainstorm your own podcast, we highly recommend that you take some time to listen to one of these popular business-related podcasts:
Content Ideas for Business or Entrepreneurship Oriented Podcasts or Blogs:
Here are some content ideas you can consider as you work to identify the niche you’d like to center your content on. Be sure to read our guides for how to start a podcast and how to start a blog to help you get started!
Participate in a Contest or Competition
Contests are great opportunities for you to put your skills to the test! Not only that, but the Common App also allows students to list five honors and awards at the local, state/regional, national or international levels. Listing five awards and honors will help you to demonstrate achievement in your field and stand out amongst your peers. Contests available for students who are interested in business, economics or entrepreneurship include:
World Series of Innovation
“NFTE’s World Series of Innovation invites young people to get involved in solving some of the biggest challenges humanity faces today and advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
“The Conrad Challenge is a purpose-driven innovation competition creating the next generation of entrepreneurs who will change the world.” The program is for students between the ages of 13-18, all of whom will apply science, technology and innovation to solve problems with global impact while being guided by industry experts.
Blue Ocean Competition
“The Blue Ocean High School Entrepreneurship Competition is the most prestigious pitch competition for high school students in the world. It is a free virtual entrepreneurship competition that attracts the very best high school aged entrepreneurs from all over the world. Every year, individuals or teams pitch their innovative business concepts to experienced entrepreneurs and business-people, receive feedback on their ideas, join a community of like-minded students, and compete for thousands in cash prizes.”
Career Paths in Business
You can pursue an incredibly wide array of careers in the business and finance realms, but the most common career paths for those who study and pursue business include finance, consultancy, marketing, sales and entrepreneurship. As the field of business is so broad, many professionals wear different hats throughout their careers, while others specialize in a specific sector within finance or marketing, for example. Keep in mind that everything is a business. If you love basketball, you may want to explore the business or finance side of basketball, for example. The same goes for music, social media, food, clothing, art… the list goes on! Getting practical experience will be key to helping you determine which field of business you want to pursue!
Case Study of a Past Command Student
After seeing various relatives lead successful careers in corporate finance, private equity, and consulting, Sophia* often wondered how she would carve out her own niche in the business world. Sophia* challenged herself to take the most rigorous courses offered at her all-girls high school, even supplementing her coursework with a semester-long free online accounting course taught at a local community college.
However, despite her successes, Sophia* found that she was not finding her business spark in the numbers she studied. She was much more interested in the stories and people that she encountered during the annual Harvard and Barnard business conferences she attended as a student ambassador. Inspired by this realization, Sophia* applied to and was admitted to the Indiana Kelley Young Women’s Institute where she began to build a network of professionals who she planned to leverage in the future. Out of this network, Sophia* built a passion project aimed at providing select high school students with internship and shadowing opportunities that would teach them about the facets of business and leadership that interested them most. Sophia’s* work helping other young women access opportunities and discover their sub-interests in business ultimately allowed her to be admitted to NYU’s Stern School of Business, where she continued to take on leadership roles on campus with the goal in mind of helping to uplift other women in business.
*Name and details changed to comparable alternatives for anonymity