On Friday March 23rd the Entrepreneurship Program was asked to visit Year Up, an organization dedicated to closing the “Opportunity Divide” by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. The students that are enrolled into the program participate in classes that prepare them for jobs in IT, managerial, and technology-based positions. YearUp asked entrepreneurship instructor Bret Sweet to speak on his career past, present, and future and provide perspective to the current YearUp classes. YearUp has been around since 2000, originating in Boston acquiring 22 students their first year. By 2002 the first internships organized by the program start to form and the first graduating class walked out into the world in 2004. From then on, expansion led to sites appearing in Rhode Island, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco.
The YearUp SF campus was located in a brick building on Spear Street in San Francisco; the lobby hosted a very bright blue wall with a very kind greeting staff. Bret was no stranger to Year Up since he had gone to business school with the host of the speaking event. Praise awaited him around every corner and he had received a round of applause with his entrance into the event room. As per the usual charisma that Mr. Sweet gives at all of his talks, it was no surprise that students were left almost speechless. You could see the different emotions and lessons that Bret was presenting to the young adults in their faces with his stories of hardships, early ventures into entrepreneurship, and even family troubles. To say it was an inspiring motivational talk would be an understatement. Almost immediately after the talk, the room filled with questions for Bret about if he had advice for creating a successful business, what milestones they should aim for, and questions for his student ambassador about Cogswell. Needless to say it was quite the experience for everyone.
After his talk, Bret stayed behind to experience what YearUp calls their Feedback Session where all the students and teachers take a moment to reflect on the positive events and the areas for improvement that week so they can all improve personally and professionally. This involved every person in the room and required input from each person in order to be effective. In YearUp’s eyes, total immersion gives the best result. Before Bret’s departure, the students begged for his contact information so they could ask him for advice at any time and Bret being the kind man he is gave everyone a way to reach him easily.
The Entrepreneurship Department here at Cogswell would like to thank Year Up for having us at their campus and hope that they come visit us sometime in the near future!