The MAPS Media Institute is offering a class to prepare students for life beyond technology. The class teaches soft skills – the essentials to business readiness.
Peter Rosten is the founder and CEO of the MAPS Media Institute.
“Every year, we learn more about what our students want, and this year they wanted to have a better understanding about business,” said Rosten. “Since they love what we and they do, and know our program was built from scratch 11 years ago, MAPS was the business model they wanted to emulate. So the entrepreneur class, using many ‘from-the-ground-up’ business examples, teaches them how to start with just an idea and make it happen.”
The class, called Start-up, Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurship, meets Friday after school and has 30 students eager to learn from instructors Clare Ann Harff and Tim Kolberg.
These two teach other MAPS courses: Harff is the Design instructor and Kolberg teaches Music and Technology. They also have experiences starting other businesses: Harff, Blue Horse Pottery, Four Ravens Gallery and The Clay Studio in Missoula; Kolberg, Final Tone Music, IT Support Services, and he is currently starting Video Game Development.
The business readiness class is a formal and direct presentation of what the MAPS program has been teaching students indirectly since their beginning: communications skills, organization and teamwork. Communication skills give students the tools they need to verbally communicate ideas and projects, communicate face-to-face and how to connect to a variety of audiences.
The class is spelling out the character traits and skills needed for success in the film industry and other businesses: reliability, drive, dedication, motivation, respect, vision and imagination. It also examines innovative approaches and taking opportunities.
Harff and Kolberg also discuss goal setting and organization with students, giving them the tools they need to stay on task, plan and organize projects, and time management.
“The StartUP program is geared to give students more ownership in MAPS and demonstrate how their involvement is essential to our organization,” said Harff.
“This class is a start-up business within itself,” said Kolberg. “This class teaches kids how to self- market – how to market themselves to the world. Twenty years ago, we didn’t have the Internet, and we didn’t have social media or business network domains like LinkedIn that you could use to market yourself to others around the world. Self-marketing is something you can really take advantage of today that you couldn’t 20 years ago. It all boils down to computer skills. These are skills they will take with them where ever we go.”
Teamwork is a life skill not just for movie production but every business. The instructors cover “how to effectively work with a creative and talented team committed to the same goal, identify personal strengths and learn how to empower others to share their own talents and how to delegate responsibilities.”
The class covers how to responsibly use social media, how to excel in community participation and the importance of networking. Part of teamwork includes building relationships and these students learn how to cultivate and maintain solid relationships, the power of partnering with relatable businesses and how to manage supporters and contacts – all skills essential for the “it’s not what you know – it’s who you know” world of Hollywood and the film/music industry.
“Although this class is an entrepreneurship class, which I feel is such a crucial subject matter for kids that are still in the process of growing up – eighth through 12th grade – it is so much more,” said Kolberg. “It’s crucial because I don’t believe there are very many, if any, classes in the public school system offered that cover this subject in great detail.
“These core life skills that the kids in entrepreneurship class are developing can be taken with them and applied for the rest of their lives, not only into the workplace, but into their personal households, friendships, projects, every aspect of their life really.”
The class has met for brainstorming and deciding what project they would do – what business they would start up.
Their decision: MAPS Mobile.
As a group, the MAPS students decided that since “MAPS is the best thing on the planet” and “MAPS helps you find your voice” they’ve chosen to take MAPS to other places in Montana.
“Our students created the concept of the MAPS Mobile as their first entrepreneurial project,” said Rosten. “Their idea is to outfit a van with equipment and take the MAPS program on the road. The staff and I love this idea, because as the students explained: They want to ‘turn the wheels of opportunity’ to other students around the state.”
The students have viewed promotional videos, are designing their own marketing plan and will launch their start-up in about six weeks.
“As an artist and arts educator, I passionately believe that the foundation to all expression is creative access: access to information, materials, gifted instructors, quality equipment, and of course, experience and opportunity,” said Harff. “The MAPS Mobile will make it possible to provide all these elements to youth across Montana, not just at the MAPS Hamilton campus.”
“A lot of our start-up ideas had sharing MAPS in some way,” said Kolberg. “We wanted to share MAPS with other kids across Montana so we all came to this idea because we all love MAPS and we want to share. So, really that’s what our promotional video will be about. We have a timeline. We will be releasing our campaign in about six weeks.”
The class has earned a “college readiness” title and is preparing students by helping students identify their interests and skills and turn them into 21st century career paths.
“MAPS has been going strong for 11 years,” said Rosten. “We have proven that we can teach skills, whether it be film design, photography, technology, music, but we also thought wouldn’t it be cool if they could take these skills and actually turn it into a career. We’ve all heard of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Well, there’s no reason they can’t do that irrespective of age. If you feel strongly about your business idea, then you just don’t give up.”