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Be your own summer boss

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | March 30th, 2009

All you need is one summer vacation to get your own business up and running.

The London Small Business Centre along with the Ontario Government is providing students with entrepreneurial opportunities. The ‘Summer Company' program in London provides necessary skills for individuals who wish to be their own boss.

“The program provides practical hands-on business training, mentoring and the essential business skills they (students) need for their businesses to thrive,” said John Anagnostou, Business Advisor at the Small Business Centre in London. “They learn not only business skills, but grow as individuals, becoming more self-reliant and confident.”

Since 2001, the Summer Company program has supported almost 2,000 students. In 2008, a record number of 368 students completed the program.

Jen Van Herten was one of them.

At just 29-years-old, Herten found her calling through the Summer Company program.

Working at a call centre Herten quickly moved up to head office over a span of six-years. Although she enjoyed her work and the people she worked with, she was looking at different options for her future.

“I had just discovered my love for working with glass, when I was framing some photos and just couldn't stop. The thought of spending my life in insurance wasn't appealing, so I quit my job, did some traveling, and started with glass jewelry seriously in New Hampshire,” said Herten in a release.

Anagnostou agreed Herten is a great success story (among others) completing the Summer Company program.

“Jen worked very hard to be successful in her business. She sold hand crafted glass jewelry, which she designed and manufactured herself...and then worked 10-12 hour days on the weekends selling her goods. I visited her booth at the summer festivals...her product was second to none and she provided her clients with a great looking booth and excellent customer service,” said Anagnostou.

Herten, who is currently in her second year in the Crafts and Design program at Sheridan College, admits she is at the college because she loves what she is doing.

It was through the Summer Company program Jen V Glass design was born.

“Jen was just one of the standouts from The London Small Business Centre last year,” admitted Anagnostou.

“Jen managed to secure a wireless ATM machine for her booth that allowed her to take debit cards as well as credit card for payment. This made it easy for the customer to buy.”

According to Anagnostou, to be eligible for Summer Company, students must be between the ages of 15 and 29 years old as of April 30, 2009. Candidates must also be a current student and be returning to school in the fall.

Organizers of Summer Company agree the program instills real life knowledge that will only aid its participants towards a step in the right direction.

Through the Summer Company program students have the opportunity to receive hands-on business training and be awarded up to $3,000, which helps assist them in starting and growing a successful summer business that may lead to other opportunities in the future.

If eligible, Summer Company participants receive $1,500 at the start of the summer to help fund material needed to start-up their small business. On successful completion of the program the participants may also be eligible to receive an additional $1,500.

According to Harinder Takhar, Minister of Small Business and Consumer Services, “Summer Company gives our young people the practical hands-on knowledge and experience they need to view entrepreneurship as an attractive and viable career choice.”
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