A business mentor to Baltimore students

The Baltimore Sun

Salary: $36,000

Age: 24

Years on the job: Two

How she got started: While attending Catholic High School of Baltimore, Schroeder and two friends began a cleaning business. Helping them was mentor Patricia Granata Eisner. Schroeder continued to operate the business while attending what is now Stevenson University, formerly Villa Julie College, as an English major.

She approached Granata Eisner, the executive director of the Baltimore affiliate of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) about an internship with that organization. While still in school and working as an intern at NFTE, she was offered a full-time position and is a business development associate and programming assistant for the organization.

Typical day: The organization, which has its headquarters in New York, provides entrepreneurship education programs to young people from low-income communities. Schroeder's job is to familiarize Baltimore City middle and high school students with the NFTE program. Part of this entails visiting classrooms, encouraging students to enter NFTE competitions and bringing in volunteers from the business community to speak to the students. She estimates she's visiting classrooms at least twice a week.

As one of three full-time staff members at the Baltimore office, Schroeder takes on many of the administrative tasks, including accounting work, grant tracking and business development. She also works to coordinate volunteer efforts and assist with alumni relations. Schroeder must also perform much of the planning and prep work for events such as mentoring nights, business competitions and the annual fundraiser.

NFTE has 24 programs in the Baltimore area.

Story to tell: Having run her own business while in high school and college helps Schroeder relate to students who participate in the program. "I was a NFTE student without the business plan."

Competition: Last week, the organization held its citywide business plan competition for high school students. Students participating were able to present their business ideas to a group of judges for evaluation. Top winners received monetary prizes and a chance to participate in the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge held in New York.

The good: "I really enjoy working with students. When you see a student that is really into it, that's the best part."

The bad: Finding the opportunity to take time off without feeling guilty is sometimes difficult, Schroeder says. The program is year-round with business camps and teacher training taking over during the summer months when schools are closed.

Philosophy: "When I see one student affected by the program, it reassures me of why I'm here."

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