By Ayana Stewart
It’s been a good week for Alexander Santa.
“I have been working on three websites and they’re coming along great. I’m nearly finished with two of them, and the third one I just started yesterday,” Santa explained.
Santa owns Xigence Media, a web design and development firm. He founded the business in 2007 and has watched it develop over the years. Santa manages to bring in a healthy profit, charging his customers $250 per five page website.
Although web design is an industry filled with companies offering the same services as Santa, there is one thing that sets him apart from most. Santa isn’t a college graduate looking for work or a seasoned expert. He’s in the 10th grade at Wesley Chapel High.
“I began designing at the age of 11 and opened my business at the age of 12,” he recalled. “I design and code the website for each of my clients.”
While many teenagers have jobs, Santa is a part of a small but emerging group of local high school students who are starting early with entrepreneurship. Instead of settling for minimum wage earnings, Santa and other area students have focused their energy and creativity on becoming businessmen and women.
With the amount of work that it takes to oversee an entire business operation, it isn’t surprising that these students are a bit short on time. “I have no time to study whatsoever,” Santa admitted. “I still manage to pull off good grades.”
Sylvia Pardo, an aspiring pastry chef, spends her spare time baking for her home-based business, Sylvia’s Sweets. The junior at Wiregrass Ranch High pulls most of her clientele from her family members, teachers and parents of her younger brother’s friends.
“I’ve been making cakes and Spanish pastries for two years now, and I want to have my own bakery once I’m older,” Pardo said. “I have business cards and I pass them out so people can just call.”
Gaining work experience in high school is appealing to both colleges and potential employers, but starting your own business creates a unique advantage.
Russell Jones, a sophomore at Land O’ Lakes High, is the CEO of Crusher Enterprises, where he builds and restores custom cars. He creates his own schedule, can earn up to $15 an hour and has been able to work at car races because of all that he’s learned. Jones predicts he will stand out to colleges because of his achievements.
“Schools will be able to see that I made the best of the right opportunities,” Jones explained. “It’ll show that I’m a hard worker.”
For these teenagers, success came when they focused on honing their existing interests into marketable skills.
Daniel Williams, drummer for the local alternative band Adalee, is another success story. The senior at Wesley Chapel High has been pursuing graphic design for three years. He recently designed and sold shirts to promote his band and made $300 profit.
“I started at LifePoint Church sort of doing my own thing and teaching myself as I went along,” Williams said. “I really hope it’s something I can do for the rest of my life.”
While these students benefit from their hard work with steady income, the most fulfilling aspect may be getting a head start in their dream field. Williams is a perfect example.
“It’s exciting seeing people walking around with something that you made on their clothes. It’s such a satisfying feeling.”
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