Extreme Exposure to Entrepreneurs: The Key to Inspiring Your Students

Jun 16, 2023

Ask a group of first graders what they want to be when they grow up. You’ll probably hear familiar answers like professional athlete, actor, teacher, police officer, firefighter, doctor, nurse, veterinarian. It makes sense. Children see many inspiring people in these professions.

Now ask a group of high school seniors what careers they want to pursue. You’ll get a slightly longer list. But not much longer, considering the abundance of careers out there. Why is that? Why do our students set their sights on such a small group of career paths?

The answer is simple:

Most children are exposed to only a tiny fraction of the careers out there. They don’t know how vast and varied the opportunities for work really are. So they pursue the careers they see modeled to them by the people who inspire them:

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Coaches
  • TV personalities
  • Local leaders and mentors

As educators, we have an amazing opportunity to broaden our students’ post-graduation possibilities. We can inspire our students by exposing them to a multitude of careers. Especially the limitless opportunities in entrepreneurship, which is now one of the fastest-growing career pathways in the U.S. and the world!


One of the foundational pillars of EntrepreNew Pathways is the extreme exposure to entrepreneurs. Students who go through the program should experience as many entrepreneurial career paths as possible.

After they’ve been exposed to various entrepreneurs and businesses, students can make more informed decisions about their futures—decisions that aren’t limited to the usual jobs modeled to them.


EntrepreNew Pathways opens students’ eyes to new career opportunities with the Inspiring Entrepreneur Guest Speaker Series.

This speaker series allows teachers to showcase the range of possibilities in entrepreneurship in two ways:

  1. By bringing local entrepreneurs into the classroom to share their career journeys with students
  2. By presenting the Inspiring Guest Speaker video series made just for users of EntrepreNew Pathways

Whether teachers use local entrepreneurs, the video series, or both, their students will learn about unique career paths they never knew were possible or even existed.

Check out this small sample of businesses from just one city alone:

  • Wedding and event DJ
  • Content creator
  • Digital marketer
  • Boutique cotton candy shop
  • Indoor adventure park
  • Cake pop shop
  • Rock climbing gym

The variety of businesses you expose your students to is as limitless as the entrepreneurs who dream them up.


While variety of business types is important to the speaker series, there is another, even more significant, factor—inspiration.

Students aspire to careers that inspire them. So whether you’re inviting local entrepreneurs into your classroom or you’re showing an Inspiring Guest Speaker video, inspiration is key. And in my experience, it’s not hard to find entrepreneurs with inspirational stories.


The trick to getting guest speakers to share their stories with students is to give them permission—and also some helpful prompts (you can find these in the EntrepreNew Pathways curriculum!).

When I invite a guest speaker into my classroom, I ask them to be real with the students and share their personal stories—good and bad, wins and losses. Students appreciate this. They are hungry for the truth and can tell when someone is sugar-coating or being insincere.

So when an entrepreneur reveals their entrepreneurial journey, warts and all, I’ve found that students can’t help but care about the speaker and their business. And not only do they care, but they begin to see themselves in the guest speaker.

They see that the guest speaker has hopes, dreams, fears, and concerns just like they do. Of course, this validates their feelings about entrepreneurship and life in general. But it also makes them feel comfortable enough to ask big questions like

  • How do you pursue a dream in the real world?
  • What resources are available to help make your dream a reality?
  • How do you manage fear of failure?
  • How do you deal with disappointment?
  • How do you have challenging conversations with employees or business partners?

Guest speakers can give students real-world insight into these and so many other trending topics in entrepreneurship.


When guest speakers open up about their entrepreneurial journeys and their businesses, they can’t help but become passionate. And since passion is contagious, students become passionate, too.

Because they see in front of them a successful adult who had a dream—maybe even an unconventional dream, like a cake pop shop owner. And they chased that dream and made a career out of it.

For a student who may have thought their options were limited—college, military, or employment in one of the few careers they’ve seen modeled—it is mindblowing to see that they can create a business from their passions.


These guest speakers’ inspirational stories have the power to change lives. I’ve watched it happen in my own classroom. They can broaden students’ horizons, shape their futures, and lead to professional mentoring relationships.

It’s why I believe so strongly that students need to be exposed to many different entrepreneurs with many different business types.

Because every time a guest speaker enters a classroom, there is the possibility that a student will see themself in that entrepreneur, and a whole new realm of possibilities will open up before them.


Ms. Kilgore has been a CTE teacher for 17 years. She holds a master’s degree in Career and Technical Administration from Kent State University. Additionally, she is the creator of EntrepreNew Pathways and teaches the program locally for the Six District Educational Compact and Woodridge Local School District.
Ms. Kilgore is the grateful recipient of the 2022 Summit County Teacher of the Year award and was named a 2022 Walt Disney World Top Educator Using Innovation and Creativity.

Learn more about EntrepreNew Pathways

EntrepreNew Pathways will be available in August 2023 for free. If you’re interested in implementing a hands-on approach to teaching entrepreneurship, fill out the form below to be the first to know when the program is available for use!

Bring EntrepreNew Pathways into Your Classroom!

Interested in bringing impactful, experiential entrepreneurship learning to your classroom? We’ve got good news - EntrepreNew Pathways is now available and ready to help students near you build their entrepreneurial mindset today! Simply fill out the form here to receive access to this FREE program today.

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