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What Happens when Educators Intern at Startups

Reactor organizes Singapore's 1st Startup Immersion for Educators

During the June holidays, Reactor sent 11 educators to intern at 6 local startups. For the first time ever, educators were given the chance to gain a first hand of experience what working in a startup is like. Here are just a few things they noted on the difference between a startup life and their current school life.

Startup life - Flexible. Open. Free. Growth Mindset. Corporative.

Current School Life - Rigid. Change is Difficult. Repetitive. Routine.

Educator spotting the differences between a startup life and their current school life

In a short span of 4 days, the educators managed to develop the knowledge and skills to facilitate Entrepreneurship Education (Entre-Ed) amongst their students. How did we achieve this?

Step 1: Understanding Entrepreneurship and the Importance of Being Entrepreneurial

In order to even immerse themselves in a startup life, we had to get them to understand the "why" behind doing so. What is entrepreneurship? What does it mean to be entrepreneurial? Why is it important to be entrepreneurial? These questions were addressed on the first day when the educators underwent the Reactor Certified Educator (RCE) training. Through RCE, educators gained a deeper understanding of being entrepreneurial and developed the skills and knowledge to facilitate Entre-Ed in their own classrooms.

So what is Entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is finding win-win solutions for you and your customer.

What does it mean to be entrepreneurial?

It means to be visionary yet grounded. It means to be flexible yet have grit. It means to be autodidactic. To be entrepreneurial, one has to be relentlessly resourceful and find out how to do things on their own. #BeBold and #MoveFast.

Why is it important to be entrepreneurial?

Being entrepreneurial also means being open to uncertainties. In schools, they ask us 1+1 = ?, when in fact, the question should be ? + ? = 2. Hence, it is important to cultivate entrepreneurial individuals so our youth can start solving the world's biggest problems. We need them to identify the problems around them and start finding win-win solutions for them.

Educator simulating pitching at RCE

Step 2: Throwing Them into the Deep End

As one of the individuals responsible for allocating tasks to the educator interns, this was my favorite part of the programme. We gave all 11 educators a capstone project they had to complete during their internship period of 2.5 days. In order to give them a better idea of what working in a startup is like, we had to get them to step out of their comfort zones. Tasks given were things they had never done before. Hence, they had to be relentlessly resourceful and figure out how to complete the tasks given to them. For example, the educator interns who completed their internship at Reactor were tasked to create Facebook ads. Their Ads were published and they managed to generate 2 leads in a week.

Throwing them into the deep end forced them to be entrepreneurial and gave them a real experience of the startup life. Of course, it was not just drowning and being thrown into the flames the whole time. The educators also learnt a lot from talking to the entrepreneurs around them. They got to know the stories of the different co-founders, and hope to use the same stories to inspire their own stories.

Trabble interns learning from Trabble's co-founder

Step 3: Contextualising their Experiences

After the fun and gruelling internship experience, we had to make sure that their experiences were made relevant to their daily lives as teachers. Hence, we conducted a round table session so that the educators could share with us their thoughts and experiences of their internship. Onus was then on us to contextualise their experiences. It was time to answer the "So What?" of the programme.

So what that I know what it is like to work in a startup?

We live in a VUCCA world. VUCCA meaning volatile, uncertain, complex, chaotic and ambiguous. Your experience working in a startup simulates that world very well. Hence, it is important to encourage students to have an entrepreneurial dare in order to survive in the world. Using your experience, know what skills you need to survive in the VUCCA world and impart them to your students.

So what can I do to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit in my students?

Turn away from conventional teaching methods, and start working toward asking them ? + ? = 2. For example, give them a math question and let them decide for themselves on how they want to solve it. Be it through model drawings or algebra. As long as it works. Another example could be having students define their own parameters of learning, and the educators playing more of a facilitation role rather than a teacher role. Their duty would then be to support their students by providing resources and advice, as the students work toward achieving the learning objectives they set for themselves.

Trainer contextualising educator intern's experiences during the roundtable session

The 3 steps mentioned above were done through a half-day training, 2.5-day internship and 1-day roundtable. That is the gist of what happened during the 4-day training and internship segment of the Reactor Startup Immersion for Educators (RSIE). You can also find out more about what happened at RSIE here.

Next up, was the RSIE Symposium, where 60 other educators were invited down to learn from the experiences of the 11 educators. Mr. David Chua, the Chief Executive of the National Youth Council (NYC) was also present as the Guest-of-Honor to show his support towards Entre-Ed.

The symposium also saw other startup co-founders sharing their experiences in school, interactions with their own teachers and how it contributed to their entrepreneurship journey at the FireSide Chat. Indeed, teachers do play a great role in students' lives, therefore, it is important to note that what is imparted to students could stick with them for life.

We had a great run of RSIE and we hope that the educators will continue bringing Entre-Ed into their classrooms!

To our participants and hosting startups, thanks for coming aboard to help solve the world's biggest problem of not having enough young people to solve the world's biggest problems by cultivating the galaxy's best young founders.

Group photo of the educator interns and team reactor

About RSIE:

RSIE is powered by NYC and is organized by the collective efforts of all hosting startups and their founders with the aim to help equip youth educators with training and facilitation skills in Entrepreneurship Education (EntreEd), in the hope that they will inspire entrepreneurial mindset in their students.

Hosting Startups:

Bantu, Trabble, TalentTribe Asia, CognaLearn, honestbee, Reactor

Venue Sponsor:

Temasek Polytechnic

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