Ever since I was young, I had an interest in the larger world and its various players. I found that young people, despite our lack of experience, wealth, or wisdom, is capable of incredible accomplishments. I previously thought that my age was a disadvantage and often did not reveal my age because I was afraid people wouldn't take me seriously. As I'm reaching into my early 20s, I'm no longer considered a "youth." And in retrospect, there are definitely some perks to being a teenage founder.
There are just so many opportunities available to youth - conferences, volunteer events, and outreach programs. My first exposure to youth engagement was during an internship with Do Something, the nation's largest youth nonprofit. We received grants, mentorship, and a robust support network of young people doing amazing things. As I've grown older, I found that's it's been increasingly more difficult to convince people to give you money!
When I was an advertisement sales manager for my high school newspaper, I would attend these city-wide events where people from different chambers came to network and discuss events. As the only teenager there, I definitely stood out. But this actually convinced people to pay attention to me more, as I sold over $500 in ads that night!
If there was one thing I would do differently when I was younger, it would be to interact more often with the larger global youth community through professional conferences. I previously was on the organizing committee of a youth conference around the Millennial Development Goals, and it's clear that there is a need for youth platforms that connect young people. In summary, there is power in being a young person and strength in youth communities.