I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I have the weekly journal entries from elementary school to prove this – as well as my favourite class (English), food (tacos), and animal (rabbit/bird). I was known to set-up mini-classrooms in my petite and pink bedroom using stuffed animals as students.
I attended St. Patrick’s High School in Sarnia where I became an informal tutor to many of my classmates in subjects like math, business, and science. Because I was continually helping classmates, I rarely studied. I loved the opportunity to help classmates around me. I also learned that I learn by doing.
In 2001 I got my first tangible taste of teaching when a friend and I taught Business Basics, a program offered by Junior Achievement, to a group of grade 6 students in St. Peter’s Elementary School in Sarnia. My friend and I taught this business program three times over the course of two years.
When the time came to apply for university I was positive I was meant to be a teacher. I applied to 4 Ontario universities all for Child & Youth Studies or concurrent education programs. I accepted the offer to Brock University for Child & Youth Studies – ConEd.
Although my parents knew that I loved business and marketing, they were supportive in my decision to become an elementary school teacher.
When it came time to create my first university schedule I found my days filled with psychology, sociology, and child & youth. Luckily, I had the choice of two electives: Canadian Studies and Microeconomics.
Within 6 weeks I realized I had made a horrible decision, I was not meant to teach elementary school. This realization came just after the drop-date for full-credit courses. I successfully completed my first-year and changed programs into Business & Economics, a program that only 3 people at that time were pursing.
With my leap into economics I met a fabulous professor and friend – Marilyn Cottrell. By second year, I was proctoring first-year economics exams and marking first-year papers and assignments. At the end of second year, she offered me several positions as a teaching assistant for macroeconomics. During my time at Brock I instructed over 30 macro/micro economics tutorials, with approximately 20 students in each. This gave me the opportunity to practice and improve my teaching skills. I realized I wanted to teach even more! I researched the options of teaching economics and business in high school, but at the time only one university had intake for these teachables and it was only bi-annual – and this was the “off” year.
I graduated in 2007 with a BA (Hons) in Business & Economics.
Several years later I was hired by The Entrepreneurship Centre at Kingston Economic Development Corporation as a business advisor. In this role my direct manager gave me the freedom to design, develop, and deliver educational programs for small business owners in Kingston. I developed programs on marketing, finance, human resources, Facebook, social media, and business basics. I loved the job because I was designing curriculum and teaching adults!
While at a tradeshow (Garrison Expo) I came across a Brock University booth promoting a Bachelor of Education in Adult Education. It was finally coming together – a BEd that focused on providing corporate and workplace training. Although I didn’t act on this immediately, I started the program in January 2012, with an expected completion in July 2013. At the same time I founded Jennifer Baker Consulting, a business that focuses on training businesses to use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
So when people ask me, “Why did you decide to start your business?” although I may provide a brief answer, the actuality is that it has been 28 years in the making.