How to break into the startup world as a high school student

In high school, the general idea is to take honors classes, study hard, and beef up your extracurriculars to get into your dream university - a very linear path. But what if you have your sights set on something greater? After spending our lives hearing about Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and hearing about their rags-to-riches stories, many of us are ready to start writing our own. So before jumping straight into the startup world, here’s how to prepare:


1. Figure out what you’re passionate about

Yes. We’ve heard it all before - chase your passions, follow your heart. But if you are planning to make your dreams into reality, it is probably something you are planning to do in the long run as well. The startup path is never smooth, there are always obstacles and bumps along the way. That’s why it’s crucial to dedicate your time and energy to something that excites you. Something that gets you out of bed in the morning. Only then will you be willing to give it your all - blood, sweat, and tears, everything. As Steve Jobs once said:

“you have to have a lot of passion for what you're doing and it's totally true. And the reason is that it's so hard that if you don't, any rational person would give up.”

And as expected, he is 100% correct. So how do you find what you’re passionate about?


 Well, take a look at the world around you and ask yourself: 

  • What are some things that you could change?
  • Does thinking about a particular problem excite you?
  • What are things that you already love doing?
  • Where do you see yourself in the long term?
  • Are you doing anything now that relates to the career you want to pursue?


Expand your network 

One of the best things you can do when you’re a high school student is to expand your network. By expanding your network, you can build business connections, make you more reputable, and help to advance your career. Additionally, you can gain more experience and insight into different careers as you build relationships with more professionals. Networking can also put you outside of your comfort zone and help you grow as you learn to navigate the professional world. Whether it’s finding a mentor or job/internship opportunities, networking can open all sorts of doors for you.

Gain experience

There’s no better way to test the waters than jumping right in. Getting real experience is one of the best ways to prep you for the startup world. Whether it is working at a local business or interning at a startup, getting the behind-the-scenes scoop is a great way to learn more about the startup process and the business world. Additionally, working with people helps you to hone your talking and listening skills, not to mention all the other skills you’ll be able to learn on the job to expand your business knowledge. It’ll also help you to find where your strengths are and what areas you might be able to improve on, which is important to know when you create your own startup. 


Learn!

Even as a student, there are so many opportunities to learn. Aside from real experience, there are tons of podcasts, articles, and books out there that can help you prepare for the startup world. Here are some of our top picks for startup reads:


The Lean Startup - by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs—in companies of all sizes—a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in an age when companies need to innovate more than ever.”


The Hard Thing About Hard Things - by Ben Horowitz

While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained during his career. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.


Tools of Titans - by Tim Ferriss

“Everything within these pages has been vetted, explored, and applied to my own life in some fashion. I’ve used dozens of the tactics and philosophies in high-stakes negotiations, high-risk environments, or large business dealings. The lessons have made me millions of dollars and saved me years of wasted effort and frustration.”


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