Students looking for a creative way to spend their summer and learn some tricks of the business world could learn a thing or two from former Wellesley resident Kira McDermid.
She was one of the students who ventured out on her own through Summer Company, a program that gives students the funds and tools to run their own summer business. McDermid ran a dance camp in 2010 and is now studying dance at York University.
“I ran it in Wellesley which is a small town and it didn’t really have anything like it,” McDermid said. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to see if it was something I’d really enjoy and also provide a new service to Wellesley.”
She ran weekly dance camps in July and August through the program when she was 16 and started dancing at the Carousel Dance Centre when she was eight, where there’s a big focus on ballet and modern dance.
“It was great. Everybody was really supportive, lots of kids,” McDermid said. “I ran multiple weeks throughout the summer. Lots of kids came, some kids their parents sent them back again because they liked it so much.”
The camps were aimed at young kids so it was creative movement, modern based, but not too technical. She says the Summer Company was the key to getting her camp up and running.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without that program,” McDermid said. “They give you startup money which is crucial to get all the supplies. I used it for getting supplies ready, posters, marketing, as well they give you classes through the summer, they help guide you through the process. At the end if you are successful in fulfilling the requirements they’ll give you more money, which is really important. You’re probably going to do this as a summer job, so making at least a little bit of money at the end is important.”
She said the biggest challenge was the fear of not being able to do it herself or people not coming to the camp. Neither was an issue, however.
“Having the support of the Summer Company and having classes with other people your age who are also running some sort of business was really helpful,” McDermid said. “It was a lot of work and brainpower on one person.”
Zac Rendell, with Summer Company, said the program has been great for business-oriented students in the past, but the problem is a lack of awareness.
“To raise awareness, especially in the Elmira, Woolwich, and Wellesley area, I went out to Elmira District Secondary School a couple of weeks ago and presented to 13 different classes throughout the day,” Rendell said. “Reg Holinshead, the business head at the school, arranged the meeting. The interest level from the students seemed very high. I had one on one conversations with students looking to apply and we are excited to receive their applications.”
McDermid isn’t sure where she’ll take her career after she graduates, but she’s definitely following her passion for dance and her love of teaching.
“There are lots of kinds of jobs in the industry that people don’t really think about, it’s exploring what I like,” McDermid said.
As for what she took away from the experience, being able to say you ran your own business at 16 is nothing short of a confidence boost.
“It’s just a great feeling to know you can run a business even when you’re so young,” McDermid said. “I made a profit so that was a good feeling for me. I managed all the people that came. I got a lot of positive feedback from parents and children. It was a great feeling to know I could run something that people appreciated.”