The Rising Stars Program is a melding of the minds and experiences for entrepreneurial focused youth and business professionals.
Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce has been running the six-month program annually for the past 15 years to assist high school and college-age students in developing their confidence, practicing public-speaking skills, and building a local network for future success by providing an understanding of the business community surrounding them.
The program matches students with local leaders based on career goals and common interests. While the 2021 Prince Rupert program has been redesigned, due to the worldwide pandemic, by program coordinator Aidan Murphy-Morven, a past-year participant.
Murphy-Morven said a highlight of the program for him was speechcraft.
“The Prince Rupert Toastmasters club hosted a seminar-like event for the program,” Murphy-Morven said.
“What I took away from speechcraft was how to effectively communicate a vision for a speech, an interview and other sorts of public-speaking events. It really helped me become a more confident public speaker,” he said. “Before the speechcraft, I was really anxious before a speech and nervous during the speech, but now, after completing the event, I feel a lot more confident in my abilities.”
During the workshops and seminar environment, students and their mentors learn from and share relevant experiences finding remedies to real-world business problems for local enterprises which help them improve their services and reach new demographic markets.
“I felt really honoured to be able to listen to the business’s problems then offer solutions. It was really exciting for me,” Murhpy-Morven said.
“For our voices to be heard was amazing … We’re still students in high school so we have a different perspective from what they have. So we gave them a different perspective of the problem and provided a solution for it as well.”
Participants will build their own brand by designing and creating marketing tools such as a website, social media profiles for business platforms, business cards, and professional photos. From there, the young protégés will pitch their passion with a final presentation and project of their choosing.
Passion projects are all different based on the participant’s interest and focus during the Rising Stars Program.
Some past passion projects have been television broadcast series which Murphy-Morven completed during COVID-19, a Sm’algyax First Nations language website and online application completed by Brendan Eshom, and an anthology of essays about pivoting point in various peoples lives, which is being written, compiled and published by Andy Chugh.
Chugh said his project encompasses a lot of business angles and it’s not just writing a book. He said he has had to learn to communicate his ideas, contact story submitters, negotiate with publishers, make financial business decisions on costs, and learn marketing techniques for the final product.
“You need to think as an author however, you’re more of an entrepreneur at the same time,” Chugh said. “A lot of the leadership and interpersonal training that I receive I have used it to contact all these people.”
As well as needing participants to make the Rising Stars a successful program, it could not run without the dedication of seasoned business professionals offering guidance and mentorship.
“The most successful people in the world all had (or have) mentors. Mentors encourage, enable, and empower future entrepreneurs. No matter your passion — whether it be computer programming, engineering, visual arts, theatre, sports, fishing, cooking — the Rising Stars business mentorship experience will jumpstart your future,” the Chamber said about the importance of business acumen coaching.
“I was trying to find other extra-curricular activities to enrich my understanding of the world … while I could have gone to university early I wanted to be more mature outside of school. So I want to understand more about the world,” Chugh said. “I was interested in business principles, the business community, and how it really operates. So it was an opportunity for me to get to learn.”
Chugh said his mentor was Michael Gurney, a communication specialist and member of many boards in the city.
“Through his involvement, he shared his ideas and his inspiration, his acumen that he’s collected through all the boards he has participated on. I wasn’t just learning from the manager of the Lester Centre, I was learning from a well-rounded business professional and an experienced journalist and a volunteer.”
Mentors will offer guidance and encouragement so students learn first-hand the responsibilities and opportunities of business leadership. By working with students to articulate their passions and fine-tune their abilities, mentors help program participants seize unique opportunities that lead to achievement of academic, professional, and personal goals.
Chugh told The Northern View that while some companies offer internships, they are more orientated to a specific job.
“The program is very special because there aren’t many Chambers in British Columbia that do a program that’s completely hands-on like this …This is a mentorship program. So the whole experience of actually getting to be paired with a mentor, and seeing them go through their daily schedule and working with them is so beneficial,” he said.
Mentors benefit from the Rising Stars program just as much as students.
“Business leaders who foster a vibrant mentorship gain valuable perspectives from their students, often leading to innovation and transformation of their organizations. Refining leadership and communication skills in a collaborative setting makes lifelong learning enjoyable. In fact, some mentors have found future employees among the ranks of the Rising Stars. An even greater number of mentorships have developed into mutually-beneficial business relationships,” the Chamber stated.
“It’s not just a one-way relationship with me shadowing my mentor. It goes both ways …” Chugh said. “I like to give input to my mentor. So a mentor is learning from me while I am learning from them. They’re teaching me about their experience and their business knowledge and their actions. I’m giving them input and feedback from a younger and youthful perspective.”
“I think it’s a symbiotic relationship, I gain experience from their wisdom,” Chugh said. “And they gain my perspective and they gain a new approach in solving present solutions to their problems.”
Chugh said he has lots of ‘take-aways’ from the program and said that it will actually inspire you to act on your ideas.
“Every single person has a world-changing idea or a million-dollar idea at some point in their life. It’s not simply about having the best idea. It’s about having the courage and the acumen to actually act on your ideas to defeat that whole idea of apathy that you’re not going be able to do anything.”
Murphy-Morven said there are six spots available in the 2021 program which will start in January and while the program targets students in high school or college who live in Prince Rupert, anyone can apply.
”If you’re passionate about business or you want to be an entrepreneur, then I highly recommend this program,” he said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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Applications are available online at https://www.risingstars.biz/students before Nov. 30, 2020 at midnight. Interviews will be conducted before students are paired with mentors based on their goals and interests.