Student Works – Markham, Ontario

January 31, 2024
Student Works - Markham, Ontario

Student Works

The Student Works Management Program : Creating The Leaders of Tomorrow


Equipping generations of young entrepreneurs with the skills for success

It is no secret that the labor market has reversed course from just 10 to 15 years ago. While traditionally there may have been more talented young people lining up to fill vacancies than there were jobs available, we are now undoubtedly amid a distinct labor shortage. Despite the shortage of potential employees, employers are still actively looking for a well-defined skill set equipping young people with the potential to flourish.

Possessing these skills, a young employee can virtually write their ticket. Even better, there are now more opportunities than ever before for young people equipped with the right skills required for the burgeoning field of entrepreneurship, to take a leap of faith and set up successful businesses. What can be better than being your own boss?

Before applying for highly skilled positions, or taking the step to develop their brand, young people can benefit greatly from being exposed to real entrepreneurial experience and developing the key skills to apply when embracing future opportunities. This is where Student Works has stepped in to take the lead.

Timely approach to student success

For close to 45 years there has been no better place to gain those indispensable skills than Student Works, a leading Canadian-based young entrepreneurial program that has been turning out leaders for tomorrow with the skills to develop fulfilling careers in virtually every sector of the economy.

Student Works - Markham, Ontario

Chris Thomson, President and Head Coach of Student Works

“We are a student leadership program,” Chris Thomson, President and Head Coach of Student Works, explains when we had an opportunity to catch up with him, despite his busy schedule.

“What we do is we identify students who want to be powerful leaders.”

“That could be in the [field] of law, in business, the medical space or engineering for example, and they are drawn to us because there are very few real leadership opportunities where young people get the opportunity to take the level of control and responsibility that they do in our program,” he elaborates.

“They (the students) are (eventually) running their marketing, their sales, their production management, and recruiting their teams.”

Thomson points out that Student Works has developed the proven expertise and vast experience over the ensuing decades to pinpoint the exact skill set that employers are searching for, and the distinct set of skills needed to succeed in the exciting yet competitive area of entrepreneurialism.

With such a well-oiled machine in place, it is no wonder countless ambitious students have been flocking to, and pledging their allegiance to Student Works. The leadership program’s current roster of students and their incredible alumni who have previously completed the program are shining examples of the vast experience Student Works brings to the workplace table.

“Our company has literally gotten better every year and we just continue to grow and to develop and we are just swirling in this momentum and success, in this growth of learning and improvement,” Thomson notes enthusiastically.

Rigorous training equals competitive outcomes

Part of the secret to Student Works’ success boils down to the comprehensive training that students, who have been identified as good candidates for the program, are taken through.

The training takes place throughout the months leading up to the summer, where the students will eventually be flexing their new sales, time management, and leadership skills in the form of providing home maintenance services to members of their community. These services include painting, window cleaning, and other key services that a thriving home maintenance business can reliably provide.

Before this can happen, recruitment must take place.

“We go on to university campuses in the fall around Canada to attract the best students to our program.” Thomson details.

“We are looking to recruit the rest of our available territories.”  Instead – We have a very high rate of operators that return to complete multiple seasons in the program and they refer their previous staff and friends to our program so we only have a limited number of spots available.

“All of our students are provided with a coach who coaches them through all the different aspects of the business and all of these coaches have previously run successful businesses for multiple years. They [the coaches] provide training necessary for the students to run their businesses successfully,” Thomson further outlines.

This just scratches the surface when it comes to the detailed training Student Works provides its talented student base.

“The training starts in early December. We have an [in person] orientation and online orientation. It is a five-hour training where we talk about why the program works, how it works, what they need to get there, how to get their school structures organized for the coming season,” Thomson begins.

“They [the students] are given their manuals and all the things they need to learn over the Christmas holidays and even in the fall they are learning about the business so they can be prepared for the three-day training weekend in January,” Thomson relays.

The weekend that Thomson refers to represents a comprehensive live training where all the aspects that go into developing a dynamic and thriving business are covered in detail. There are many follow up training sessions that involve going out in the field and testing those skills within the community where their home maintenance business will be providing leading summer-based home maintenance services.

“The students are taught how to market, how to sell, how to do the services we provide and work on time management skills,” Thomson describes.


Student Works - Markham, Ontario

The ‘secret sauce’

“We have a philosophy called show don’t tell.”

“We don’t want to tell people how to be successful; we want to show them how to get an estimate, how to convert that estimate into a customer wanting to be there on a Sunday afternoon for you to present that estimate to them, and then show how the customer would want to choose you over other potential suppliers in the marketplace,” Thomson details.

“We have two secret sauces of the business.”

“Canadian families overwhelmingly, or at least the customers who choose us, love the idea that they’re supporting students. [These customers] see that there is this young entrepreneur who is keen, eager, and motivated, and then on top of that they’re going to be recruiting other students who are going to work on their home; they see themselves as being part of [the student’s] future.”   The second secret sauce is that we attract incredibly driven and ambitious students to our program.

“One of the biggest skills, or mindsets, is just integrity. We spend an enormous amount of time focused on integrity and this relates directly to our key habits,” Thomson states.

Thomson illustrates that Student Works’ guiding philosophy ties in with what he has identified as the four referability habits.

These four key habits can be summed up as, “Be on time, do what you say, say please and thank you, and finish what you start.

While all these key habits may seem rudimentary, Thomson points out that without them, the foundation of a good business is shaky. Practicing these key habits, however, creates a winning business and will also take students along a successful career path leading forward after leaving the program.

The Entrepreneurial Path Forward

Beyond the obvious benefits Student Works provides in the realm of developing skills, practicing these skills, and passing on these skills to new leadership students to embrace, Thomson points to the sheer growth the company is experiencing as we face a new year ahead.

“If you look at the students who leave our program, they tend to go in several different directions,” Thomson reflects.

“One big area is that people tend to become entrepreneurs and a lot of the time they are involved in the leading trends, technology, and the changing economy.”

“We have had so many people go out and run those businesses and provide such great service to our communities. This is a breeding ground to have them win big in the future.”

As for Student Works itself, Thomson is enthused by the continued growth that he projects for the company. Growth can be measured in the company’s popularity and revenue growth.

“Since 2008, we have grown from five million to this year we will be over 30 million. We have just had an incredible growth and success of our business.”

Although these numbers are impressive, Thomson is quick to add that, “We look at ourselves as more of a private school so we don’t judge ourselves on having the biggest market numbers, rather we judge ourselves on how many leaders we have developed.”

“Our mission is to create 1000 millionaires in the program.”  When we talk about millionaires, we are speaking to what it takes from someone to create that much value in the economy and who they get to become in doing so.

“We still see lots of opportunities for us to run the business with an even higher level of integrity, customer service of employee satisfaction,”

Reflecting on the goals for 2024 Thomson best sums it up.

“We have made some incredible progress and now we continue to focus on all those little details to deliver the best value.”

“We just want to run the best, safest, and happiest program we can run,” he concludes.

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Student Works

What: a leading Canadian-based young entrepreneurial program that has been turning out leaders for tomorrow

Where: Headquartered in Markham, Ontario


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January 2024 cover of Business View Magazine

January 2024

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