Competition offers real life challenges for promising entrepreneurs across the country
By: Samadrita Guin, Staff Writer
Every year, Impact Apprentice brings together students from all over the country, selectively accumulating the cream of the crop to participate in an exciting four day competition based on real life business problems. On closing day, the nervous delegates walk in and patiently await the competition results. They mingle with each other during the cocktail networking session, but their anxiety acclimates as they can’t wait to know who wins. One of the delegates, Andrea Jackson, from the University of Western Ontario, says the most daunting challenge she faced throughout the whole competition was “being around so many talented, smart and ambitious students, and competing with them.”
I recently had the chance to interview the President of the Impact Apprenticeship Group, Vino Jeyapalan, who shared numerous insights about the competition.
We are doing real life challenges with fast growing companies, with start-ups, and great corporations that want to support this kind of an entrepreneurial ecosystem…
Q: What was the biggest challenge that your team faced while organizing the competition and getting everything together?
A: I think always the biggest challenge is the initial phase that we go through in terms of selecting the delegates. Every year that we run this competition, we have always been able to pick up the top 32 post-secondary students and we always have to try and keep that consistent. So, initially, when we did it, we had 1014 applications and we had to go through many rounds of interviews and video challenges to really find out that core character that we are looking for in an entrepreneurial leader amongst the student population. So, that was definitely a difficult part, but we finally succeeded on the challenge.
Q: What are some personal tips you would give to future applicants, to help them get into the top 32? What are the qualities you are looking for in an application?
A: I would definitely say you have to exemplify your entrepreneurial spirit as much as possible. That doesn’t mean that you have to have your own company; it really means that it’s the type of character you should show, right? So if you can find a way of showing your passion, determination, and ambition, all in one, then that is the best way to go. If it can be different activities shown through clubs, through projects, through school, then that is something that we are looking for. So whoever is innovative enough to showcase that, then they have done a hell of a job getting to get to the spot they want.
Q: What was the most personally enjoyable moment of the whole process?
A: I think it’s quite difficult to pinpoint one moment, but I’d definitely say that it might be the end, when I get to see my entire team and all their hard work. Just to see them appreciate their accomplishments feels great.
Q: If you were to spread the word about Impact Apprentice to other students throughout the country and give them initiative to apply, what would say?
A: The one thing that Impact Apprentice provides, that no other program provides, is that we bring the top students together from all over the country, whether it’s the West, or the East, or the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec etc., and make them compete in case studies. This is the one opportunity where they do not have to sit in a room and do a written business case study for an accounting firm. We are doing real life challenges with fast growing companies, with start-ups, and great corporations that want to support this kind of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and this is their opportunity to experience things that they like to do potentially in the future, and things that they don’t like to do.
On top of that, delegates get to win some awesome prizes because we offer a lot of things that people don’t get on a regular basis. They don’t know this yet, but the grand prize is a trip to the Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California. So, we are going to fly them over there and they are going to do a tour of the fast growing companies there as well. We are also offering them the potential for internships with the challenge partners that we work with. So we have mobile start-ups, real estate companies, fashion companies, and they usually say that they don’t want to meet one person to interview, but they want to talk to all of them. So it’s a lot of great talent and a lot of new opportunities.
So, for all post-secondary students out there, Impact Apprentice is a great opportunity to expand your horizons and gain loads of experience. Impact Apprentice runs every year in Toronto and if you would like more details, be sure to check out www.apprentice.impact.org !
Business News with BITE.
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