In 2021, record numbers of businesses were started in both Canada and the United States. Millions quit their jobs in what has been referred to as The Great Replacement. Inflation rose to the highest levels since the 1980s, while wages remained relatively stagnant. The New Deal era model, in which a college education provides a straightforward path to a focused career and economic prosperity, is rapidly being replaced by a new model. In this new economy, skills that nurture entrepreneurship and the ability to forge one’s own path are among the most important things young people can be exposed to. Unfortunately, the dominant higher education model is extremely ill-equipped to foster these skills.
Reflecting on my Quest education, I truly feel that Quest provided me with an experience that incorporated a variety of these important skills with a more traditional liberal arts and science education. In 2021, I started Olam Films, a video production company specializing in documentary-style content for non-profits and ethical businesses. I credit my ability to create my own path, in part, to the lessons and skills I learned at Quest.
Articulating a Vision
To create something new, you need to be able to articulate your vision. Whether on a sales call, crafting text for a website, or describing your mission in your day to day, strong rhetorical skills are a crucial aspect of entrepreneurship. In my experience, Quest focused heavily on the development of written and verbal communication skills. I gave so many presentations that public speaking felt like second nature by the time I delivered my keystone. My confidence to write and speak about my business and its mission has enabled me to create partnerships and gain clients. Anyone who wants to have an impact in this world needs to gain the skills to reach others.
Learning How to Learn
Although I may not have learned to operate a video camera at Quest, my education did prepare me to enter the rapidly changing film industry. Having a new block every month – in a new field of study with a new tutor – teaches Quest students how to adapt. Being thrust into new educational settings on a constant basis taught me how to teach myself. Starting a business or initiative requires a lot of skills outside of your area of expertise. Whether it be Canadian tax code, digital marketing, or client management, the ability to learn the basics of many new things is essential for any entrepreneur.
Guided by the Right Values
If Quest gave me one thing, it was the ability to think about the world using a multitude of frameworks. My time learning about postcolonial theory, the scientific method, or mathematical problem solving has informed the way I structure my own ventures in this world and guides the impact they aim to have. I see it in the alumni whom I’m lucky enough to call my friends; whether they are starting their own ventures or becoming leaders in existing institutions, Quest graduates are on a mission to make a better world and have the tools to think about what that might really mean.
The dominant North American University model was created for an economy that no longer exists. In an economy increasingly marked by self-employment, education needs to shift toward fostering the skillset of entrepreneurship. I am not suggesting that Quest has all the answers or is a good model for every student. However, for me, Quest provided some of the skills and habits that I credit my success in being able to leave my 9-5 job to pursue creating my own business.
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Feb 21, 2022 | Contributed by Ben Grayzel