While most of us at They Don’t Love You are postgraduate students looking desperately for jobs next year, we have not forgotten the
younger generations. If you are one of the people who thinks “life was tougher when I was your age” then this article is probably not for you (let me suggest you read the articles in the tech or retail sections). At TDLY, we (or at least I) believe that today’s children face a much heavier pressure to succeed than our parents and their parents before that.Therefore, if you are in your A-levels and you are worrying because you are not sure what interests you in life or because you did not get any ‘uni’ offers, there is still hope. Really, there is! This hope is the Activize Initiative: an entrepreneurial project undertaken by two British students, a platform that could inspire young people from diverse backgrounds to create world-changing ideas, but overall, an amazing career resource for the 21st century! Using ground-breaking interactive technology, Activize is building an incredible tool that exposes the social leader inherent within all young people, and provides practical, personalized advice for young people leaving education. I met with co-founder, Hugo Winn, to ask him a few questions and understand the ambition behind this very promising project.
How did it all start? Were you drunk at the pub when you came up with the idea like Mark Zuckerberg when he founded Facebook?
Hugo Winn: After school a lot of our friends went different ways, but a few have ended up doing a socially positive career. We noticed that kids are rarely told by their career services that entrepreneurship and innovation are a feasible option for a career. It seems a-lot of young people are leaving education at 16 or 18 facing overwhelmingly small odds of landing a traditional office-style job. Naturally, this is pretty depressing.
Concretely, what is the Activize project?
HW: We wanted to highlight those remarkable kids who had overcome obstacles and done something different for themselves and their communities. So we decided to create a hub for radical ideas, stories and leaders aged 25 and under. We’re also building an interactive tool for young people to discover their natural leadership skills and how they can exploit them.
What is the message your brand tries to convey to the younger generation?
HW: We’re building an amazing team of young creative people who are helping with Activize’s branding and marketing. We are trying to create a brand that says ‘these are serious issues being raised by serious people’, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it and create something different and unique.
It seems you have a strong team of advisers, how important are these advisers?
HW: We have brought together an incredible community of leading educators, experts and entrepreneurs committed to social change in the next generation. We wanted the advisory board to be as comprehensive and diverse as possible,so that’s why we’ve got folks from academia, business and education, working together to make something awesome. Our advisors have collectively got over a century in changing young people’s lives, so we think this is a massive asset for the project.
The Activize website will be fully operational and available to young people leaving school this summer, have you contacted schools to get a better visibility and awareness for students who may be in difficulty choosing their path?
HW: We have teamed up with The Duke of Edinburgh International Award, which is incredibly exciting. They are going to help get our resources into about 60 schools across Europe. Additionally, we’ve had another 60 schools signing up on our website (a paper long-form format of our interactive quiz) and are teaming up with international universities to engage t
heir students in social leadership. From madrasa’s in Pakistan to Australian high schools, it’s been really inspiring to receive such a great up-lift of our vision.
Can you give us a few names of the leaders you are targeting at the moment? Or is it classified information…?
HW: Unfortunately it’s top secret at the moment. But, I can tell you we will be featuring a rapper who raps poetry, a collection of radical young politicians, a disabled rights’ campaigner and a jewellery entrepreneur. Watch this space…
Activize also relies on social media as a communication channel; do you get a lot of engagement from these networks?
HW: We are already getting an amazing response. Getting positive comments from people like Sir Ken Robinson, and the UN Youth Secretary on twitter is really motivating.
We needed a way of engaging young people in diverse and sometimes controversial conversations. Social media is an obvious choice in this respect. We will be posting videos, images and articles from our Young Leaders in the coming months.
Do you have specific objectives you would like to achieve on social media?
HW: We’re still hashing out the ins and outs of our social strategy at the moment. What I can say is that an integrated approach to social will be at the heart of our structure. We want our social channels to become hubs of challenging ideas and initiatives between a global audience of young people, and each channel will help deliver this mission in different ways. We are working hard and can’t wait to share some of this stuff with everyone.
Finally, what would say to a fifteen year-old girl passionate about painting whose parents too often told her that a career in art would take her nowhere? (This is not about me, I’m asking for a friend…)
HW: I would say, make the case to your parents why your passions make sense to pursue. Your parents were probably born in a time when jobs were ranked on ‘reliability’ rather than ‘fulfillness’. Building a career out of something you’re passionate about not only makes personal sense, but financial sense as-well. Simply put, if you are genuinely passionate about something you are more likely to do a good job on it. Money and everything else will follow suit. That’s what I believe. Make the case for this to your parents; we have a duty to change the mind-set not only of our generation but the generation before us as-well.
Wise words from a wise man indeed. Go visit: http://www.activize.co and show your support on Twitter and Facebook.