Volunteering with Young Enterprise Northern Ireland (YENI)

Just over a week ago I volunteered with Young Enterprise Northern Ireland (YENI) and spoke to a group of 13-14 year olds at Glengormley High School.

The whole thing lasted around one hour (although the students were probably thankful my talk was only 15-20 minutes in total!) and focused mainly on the topics of digital marketing and running your own business/working for yourself.

It’s been years since I was last in a school, and back then I was wearing a uniform, so it was strange being back in an environment that felt both familiar and distant.

It was really enjoyable and I’d highly recommend anyone, who felt they could contribute, to give it a go. Likewise it also got me thinking about two important topics: uncertainty and collaboration.  


One of the tasks assigned to the kids was to imagine their lives a decade from now when they’d be approaching their mid-twenties. Part of the task included imagining their future jobs; houses and family situation and that got me thinking. When it came to future jobs the student’s aspirations ranged from footballers to army nurses to computer programmers and everything in between but the crazy thing is, most of their future jobs might not even exist yet!

I haven’t a clue what I would have said ten years ago but if you think about the digital landscape today there are bloggers, digital marketers, eBay flippers, YouTube stars and more. Some of these jobs are brand new where as others are simply the digital cousins of positions from years gone by.

Looking at it from a business sense I think the key is to roll with the punches. In the last eighteen months Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook video marketing have all exploded onto the marketing scene so who knows what 2017 and beyond will bring.

In my experience the key is to experiment, learn and go from there.


Another interesting point was the collaboration and brainstorming between students.

If you think back to school days every class featured groups of friends huddled around tables distracting each other, working and having fun. Obviously there’s a time and a place for collaborating (and school kids generally test these limits…) but it’s so valuable when it comes to thinking of new ideas.

Over the course of 2016 I’ve met so many businesses that work in silos, or solo, and as a result, through no fault of their own, struggle to come up with ideas on how to market themselves in a digital world.

On our own we tend to be our harshest critics but together ideas start to bounce around and even terrible suggestions can result in the crucial light bulb moments we all need.

That’s got me thinking about both the people I work with and my own business so stay tuned for some fun collaboration in 2017… 

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