By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2014, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
It’s not unusual for someone to walk into our offices that we don’t know. We invite entrepreneurs to come to us for advice. We host events. We have partnering relationships with many other organizations in the entrepreneurial space.
What is unusual is for that someone to be a high school student, knocking on our door, looking for an internship opportunity. That’s exactly what happened last year in our Tulsa office when Hayden Allen, a senior at Cascia Hall Preparatory School, stopped by.
Hayden competes in international science fairs and has always had the desire to innovate.
“I get to experience these miraculous advances in technology that individuals my age come up with,” he said. “Once I discovered the concept of entrepreneurship and figured out there was a noun for people like me — entrepreneurship — I wanted to learn more.”
The school Hayden attends has a program encouraging juniors and seniors to go into the community for one-month internships. After a series of interviews, Hayden joined us for about 20 hours a week.
Hayden took the internship chance and ran with it. He sat in due diligence meetings as we were evaluating companies and absorbed and observed what we do and how we do it. He performed project work — market analysis and other projects. In Hayden’s words, he was “immediately welcomed into the i2E family. Because of their actions, my understanding of the entrepreneurship process has become concrete.”
I think we all learned from the experience.
It is always good to get a fresh perspective on what we are doing and what is going on around us. It was also great to see our impact on the entrepreneurial community through Hayden’s eyes.
Hayden offered this unsolicited assessment of our efforts: “The dedication, commitment, and encouragement to the Tulsa entrepreneurial community that i2E brings forth is astonishing. I would not have thought that such drive to improve the surrounding community would have been present.” (Of course, we work just as hard to support the entrepreneurial community in Oklahoma City, but Hayden didn’t get the chance to observe that.)
Most importantly, we seem to have had a profound impact on Hayden.
“I am beyond thrilled to have spent the month of January at i2E,” he said. “I worked on as many projects as I could; I loved every second of it. There was not a minute passed that I wasn’t involved in some way. This experience has opened many doors for me and has solidified my desire to become an entrepreneur.”
Good for you Hayden!
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Email Meacham at [email protected].
DID YOU KNOW? 1 Million Cups, a program run by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs that connects entrepreneurs, businesses, and technology, is now operating in 29 cities, including Tulsa, every week.