A new take on the traditional concept of “finishing schools” has recently emerged in Boston.  The Boston Startup School trains young people specifically for positions at smaller start-up businesses, rather than massive corporations.  The first group of 72 students graduated from the six-week program this month, with a second session scheduled to begin in November.

Program director Aaron O’Hearn and curriculum developer Mark Chang recognized the value of teaching young people skills they will need to succeed in a small business environment, but may not have had the opportunity to learn in college.  The Boston Startup School offered four subject concentrations in its first session: marketing, software development, product design, and sales and business development.  The primary goal of each concentration is to spark student creativity while giving them a head start on developing key skills that drive the growth of start-up businesses.  “It’s like a modern reinvention of trade school,” says Chang.

Since most start-ups and other small businesses have little time to devote to recruiting and human resources, the Boston Startup School aims to function as a valuable talent pool from which local companies can draw.  The program is sponsored by several such companies, which subsidize operating costs in exchange for early hiring access to graduates.  Larger corporations, such as Microsoft, also sponsor the program.

If its first graduating class is any indication, the Boston Startup School may serve as a successful model for new business training and recruitment methods.  Over half of its inaugural graduates have already found jobs, including 22 year old Nicki Haylon, who credits the program with helping her to realize that “…being with a tight-knit group of people who are working passionately to create something,” is her true professional goal.

Source: Bruder, Jessica. “A Start-Up Tries to Prepare Students to Work in Start-Ups” nytimes.com, 8/28/12.

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