Do you know your passion?

This story is about being empowered. People do not move toward their dreams for many reasons. Of those reasons, self-limiting thoughts often prevent us from considering what is possible. Sometimes, it takes someone – like a teacher – to tell you that anything is possible. This is that story. This is the story of a young woman who dared to think of what was possible.

Jessica liked working with her father whenever he built something. Her father was a self-employed master craftsman. He designed and crafted hand-made furniture. Jessica wanted to be like her father. She thought that it would be interesting to learn how to run her own business making things for other people. She knew some of her father’s colleagues. And she knew how to build things using power tools. She also liked dogs. In fact, she designed the doghouse that sat in the yard – the very house that the family pet, Spot, lived in.

When Jessica’s teacher prompted the class for project ideas, she readily spoke up. The other students in her high school class agreed that learning how to become entrepreneurs and business owners would be a great idea. In a week’s time, Jessica’s teacher crafted the parameters of the project-based learning activity.

What is your driving force?

As a result, Jessica, along with her classmates, began a learning experience that would take them through the ins-and-outs, as well as the ups-and-downs, of what it was like to run a business.

Jessica started a LinkedIn profile with the guidance of her teacher, father, and a few of her father’s colleagues. Her classmates did the same. As part of the process, Jessica needed to become part of the entrepreneur community. This meant making connections with the local Chamber of Commerce and building relationships with other entrepreneurs in her community and across the globe. This was one of the starting points to opening a business – she needed to learn how others did it before jumping into the action. She was overwhelmed with the number of things she needed to learn. Still, she felt excited about the process all the same!  

Jessica remained excited throughout the research project. When her teacher asked her to reflect on what she learned, Jessica was quick to respond with a smile on her face. She began talking about her experiences working side-by-side with her father. He was the starting point for her research. After talking about her father, Jessica then jumped into talking about her LinkedIn experiences. The LinkedIn social media platform was very different from other social media. The content and conversations were different. Jessica admitted that having to act ‘grown-up’ was a new experience for her. Still, she admitted that this was her last year of high school, so it was time to make that transition. Her father, and his colleagues, commented that she was making the transition very well.

Who do you know and why is that important?

After making professional connections on LinkedIn, she learned how to start posts, upload videos, and write articles. With support from a friend, she developed a website. Using LinkedIn, YouTube, and her website, she developed quite a following in a short period of time. She posted blogs and vlogs throughout the week, keeping her connections and followers up to date on her doghouse projects!

Why should you reflect on this things you have done?

Soon, it was time to reflect upon the work she did and what she learned. As her teacher prompted her about the overall experience, Jessica was able to think more critically about the last month and a half. Jessica had much to say. Most importantly, she stated how she grew personally. Jessica felt closer to her father, gained a deeper appreciation for what he did, and better understood how entrepreneurs risked a lot to become successful. She also gained a new respect for those across social media platforms. Keeping content fresh and relevant was hard work. Jessica’s teacher praised her, and her classmates, for all the diligent effort they put into this Project-Based Learning activity! Since it was their senior year in high school, they would take this forward with them into the next phase of their lives.  

In short, Jessica loved working on her project. It focused on entrepreneurship. Although the idea of going to college weighed heavily on her mind, she thought that she could duplicate her father’s success if she focused hard enough. She could always go to college if her business failed. But she was not about to let that happen. She also thought that – maybe – attending a few courses at the community college would help her keep her brain focused. And she could take a few courses on accounting, economics, and budgeting – skills needed for business owners.

Jessica was good at school. She was good at a lot of things. But the thought of being a business owner – an entrepreneur – was what motivated her to get out of bed most mornings! Now that she had the opportunity to spend school time, and her free time, to pursue this effort, she was going to make the most of it!

Are you ready to share yourself with others?

When her teacher asked her about the final product – the big reveal – Jessica considered her options carefully. She thought that a powerful presentation at school or local business incubator would be a good idea. She also considered giving a talk at the local Chamber of Commerce. Her teacher suggested a possible TEDx talk at the local community college. All of these were great ideas. They would give her tremendous exposure. However, she was gaining a lot of online publicity. Her LinkedIn posts received attention. Her YouTube channel received a lot of views. Her online subscribers loved her weekly vlogs, and they weighed in on the topic. As a result of everyone’s input, her final product for the PBL activity was going to be a live podcast. 

Why do I use Project-Based Learning as a life philosophy?

This is Jessica’s story; how one project-based learning activity inspired a young person’s career! This could also be your story. No matter the age, you probably have a passion. Often, we do not know how to pursue that passion. Am I good enough? Should I even try? Who should I talk to? What happens if I fail?

These are all real questions. But you can’t answer them until you take that first step forward!