Mentoring at the BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp

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Mentoring is at the heart of what BT does for the 30 plus award winners that attend the annual BTYS Business Bootcamp that follows on hot-on-the-heels of the exhibition. Even though this our seventh year of running the camp, the buzz and the excitement on the first day is as palpable as ever..


The students have had first introductions to their teammates and the BT business mentors have been assigned their projects. The starting gun is fired and a great fun race to the finish is underway.

I am sure you have all had an experience of mentoring, whether it’s coaching members of a sports team, supporting a work colleague, or a more formally structured approach to help someone make the best of their opportunities.



The guidance we bring here is mainly about sharing our own experiences of group working and encouraging students to get the most out of the programme so that they are ready for their final pitches to the judges on the Thursday 3rd March.

I also try and share bits of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way, like the things I’ve picked up from John C. Maxwell’s excellent business book “The 15 Invaluable Lessons Of Growth”. He has some great observations about the importance of discipline – a fantastic way of thinking to feed into young minds. “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments, and that bridge must be crossed every day,” he says. “Over time that daily crossing becomes a habit. And ultimately, people do not decide their future; they decide their habits and their habits decide their future…”

Thinking commercially

In the six years since it started, I have had the privilege to be involved and see the Bootcamp bridge the gap between the worlds of education and business, inspiring a next generation of young innovators and entrepreneurs. If there’s one single thing that I’ve seen students benefit from, it’s the realisation that a good idea becomes a lot better if they can identify a market for it.

We developed the Bootcamp as an extension to the BT Young Scientist exhibition to introduce business mentoring to students, hopefully encouraging them to take their ideas to the next level. We wanted to introduce them to the kind of commercialisation skills that they could carry forward into their careers and lives.

One of the most satisfying things is to see previous Bootcamp attendees going on to create viable businesses. A great example is James Eggers and Danny Hobbs, who met for the first time at Bootcamp and have gone on to set-up their venture betterexaminations.ie.

Back to Bootcamp now – we’ve got a pitch to prepare….

Steve Coakley

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