Entrepre-new opportunities

Harlamert Entrepreneurship Competition enters its 14th year


Awards Given: Last year’s participants of the Harlamert Entrepreneurship Competition received their awards on Thursday, Mar. 24 2021 at an awards breakfast. “I learned the ins and outs of the real world, how someone starts a business, and what it takes to create a sustainable business,” Caroline Woessner (11) said. Photo Contributed By: The Oakwood Schools Foundation

Griffin Greear, Reporter

The Harlamert Entrepreneurship Competition started on Dec. 2 and will run through Jan. 31, allowing students to gain the experience of shadowing an entrepreneur. Judge Irvin Harlamert started this opportunity in 2010 through the Oakwood Schools Foundation to give students a chance to start thinking about entrepreneurship at a young age.

“It emphasizes the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit on the success of our society and encourages students to explore and understand the experience of entrepreneurs,” business teacher Natalie Johnston said. “Entrepreneurs are those who take a risk, pioneer a way and provide employment opportunities for others because of their hard work and grit. Students gain job shadowing experience, the opportunity to earn prize money and can then add the valuable experience to their resume.”

Students pick an entrepreneur whom they contact and shadow for at least half a day. After they experience what it is like to work as that person, they write a 750-1500 word essay about their experiences. Participants can win any of three categories, creators, who win $150, innovators, who win $175, and inspirers, who win $200. Results are announced on Mar. 7. 

I [encourage my students to enter] the competition because I am passionate about helping students become passionate to succeed,” Johnston said. “I enjoy seeing the students experience entrepreneurs’ stories of their hardships, being told ‘no’ and rejected 10 times before hearing a ‘yes’. The impact on the students is forever; the experience is a half-day.”

This competition also lets students see what it takes to run a business, something most high schoolers rarely get to watch.

“I thought it was pretty cool to be able to watch what it is like to own and run a business and to see the ‘behind the scenes,’ and take on the real world and see how it works,” past participant Caroline Woessner (11) said.

Some students may not know if it is worth it to spend the time and energy to join the competition.

“I learned so much from just asking questions and shadowing. If you like . . . learning about how to run a business, this is a great competition for you,” Woessner said.

If eager kids are willing to participate but are nervous about finding an entrepreneur they will connect with, there is no need to worry.

“The stereotypical profile of an entrepreneur–a male businessman who started his own company and has become extraordinarily wealthy–no longer applies,” The OSF website explains. “Entrepreneurs are male and female, young and old, involved in both vocations and avocations.”

Students likely do not have a definite idea of what they want to do in life, but like Woessner still may be able to find uses for the experiences they have gained.

“I want to dance when I’m older and become a professional dancer . . . I also want to be certified in teaching yoga and other fitness activities which is what I did for my Harlamert Entrepreneurship Competition and interviewed owners that started their own businesses,” Woessner said. “Even if I might not want to start my own company someday it is beneficial to learn about what it takes to be a part of what they do and how they got there.”

Businesses can be started by anybody, and with the right skills, anyone can be successful.

“It’s hard work to run your own business and there’s a lot to consider when starting . . . but if you’re passionate about something it can work out in the end,” Woessner said.